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KPBS Midday Edition Segments

Sheriff Gore Discusses Response To COVID-19

 April 6, 2020 at 11:15 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 Governor Gavin Newsome focused his coronavirus update on procurement. Today the state's goal is to secure a 50,000 hospital beds for an expected surge of patients. And the state is lending 500 ventilators to hard hit areas of the country. The governor, speaking from an arena where the Sacramento Kings basketball team normally plays the site is now being turned into a 400 bed alternative care site. Speaker 2: 00:25 We currently have locked in 4,613 specific beds sites now throughout the state of California. Uh, we have sites like this arena, uh, in every, uh, major, uh, region in the state of California. Speaker 1: 00:43 The governor's call for healthcare, retirees, and students to sign up for staffing. As members of a new California health Corp has resulted in more than 80,000 applications in San Diego, the Sheriff's department has started issuing tickets to people for violating the state's stay at home order. Last Friday, 22 people near beaches and Encinitas were cited for violating stay at home orders. And the County says enforcement of public health orders will continue, including the mandate that essential workers wear face masks when dealing with the public journey. May is San Diego County sheriff bill Gore and sheriff Gore, welcome to the program. Speaker 2: 01:21 Thanks Marina. Good to be here. Speaker 1: 01:23 Why has the County decided to start cracking down on people who violate the public health orders? Is it because a lot of people are not complying? Speaker 2: 01:31 Well, not Maureen for in fact, the vast majority of people in San Diego County are compliant and doing a great job. Uh, we went for two weeks trying to educate and get voluntary compliance with the both the governor's executive order and the County public health where last Thursday in a press conference. I said, really the, the time for education is over. We're getting into a critical time. And so for those few people in the County that have not got it yet, we're going to start issuing citations. So that's what we've done. Speaker 1: 02:02 And what is the penalty? How much is the ticket? Speaker 2: 02:05 Well, the maximum penalty would be a thousand dollar fine. And the maximum penalty might be up to six months in jail. That is not going to be the case on a first time offender. Uh, like the citations we issued, uh, last weekend. Speaker 1: 02:19 Now the County has also asked the public's help in enforcing these orders. You're asking people to contact it two one, one if they see violations. Isn't that right? That's correct. Do you have any sense of how many calls you may have received so far? Speaker 2: 02:33 No, I don't have an exact number for you, but we have people that are, let's face it, everybody in this County is sacrificing. Nobody likes to be cooped up in their house. It's stressful. It's caused a lot of anxiety. And I think, like I say, most citizens of this County that are, that are compliant with these orders, they think everybody should be compliant, which is the case. They all should be compliant. That's how we're going to shorten this time, uh, during this crisis from maybe for, instead of months. We can do this in weeks. Uh, as I pointed out, uh, numerous occasions, these, it's an executive order. It's a public health order. It's not a recommendation to be followed when it's convenient. What we're trying to do, in addition to not overloading our hospitals and our medical providers, ultimately what we're trying to do is save lives and everybody should be involved in that. Everybody should buy into it. And those few that aren't, we're going to start issuing citations Speaker 1: 03:31 now. We heard that for Sheriff's department employees including a nurse, have tested positive for covert 19. Is the department doing widespread testing? Speaker 2: 03:41 Uh, what we're doing is testing, uh, those that, uh, appear to be symptomatic, uh, or have been exposed to somebody that is symptomatic. Uh, we're not testing all of our employees. There just aren't enough tests in the County yet to to accomplish that. Uh, what we're doing is we have, we've also had one inmate, uh, test positive for COBIT 19. What we're trying to do is really, and we started this over a month ago, really tighten our screening process into our jails to try to identify them at intake into our facilities in our booking, uh, facilities. Uh, now it starts when the police officer or deputy Sheriff's car pulls into the Sally port. In our, in our facility there are met by medical providers at the car. The inmate and the officer are tested. And if they, if, if the inmate appears to be symptomatic, he's placed in isolation. First of all, he's given a mass to where then he's placed in isolation given a test. And that's how we identified the one inmate that we have that's come back positive. Speaker 1: 04:48 Our deputies now wearing face masks on duty Speaker 2: 04:51 in our jails. It depends on exactly what you're doing in that jail. All of our, uh, our deputies that healthcare providers and our jails that have contact with inmates are wearing it. Uh, depending on the level of contact, it might be a respirator, a mask, a gown and gloves, uh, all the way back to maybe just a respirator in the field and our deputies in the field, we try to screen all the calls that we, uh, that come into our dispatch to determine if there is any illness, possible infection, uh, in the house that we're responding to. And the deputy. Where's the, uh, respirator and, and protective gear, uh, according to the report we get. Uh, I think that's probably changing. Uh, I think our deputies will be wearing their, at least their respirator on almost all interactions with the public. I think that's, that's safe for the public and safe for our deputies. Speaker 1: 05:48 Back to the risks, uh, that a County inmates might have in County jails. Is there any way that they can practice physical distancing and do inmates have enough supplies to keep washing their hands and things of that nature? Speaker 2: 06:04 It will, as you know, jails were not built to socially distance people. Uh, that's why in the last starting amount a month ago, we've worked so hard on keeping the infection out of our jails at the same time, downsizing our population so that we can accomplish, uh, the social distancing, which makes it safer for our inmates and safer for our staff. We're doing this through, uh, several ways, um, by limiting the number of people that are booked in changing our booking criteria. And then looking at sentenced inmates in our facility that I have the ability with the judge's permission to release if they're in their last 30 or 60 days of their, of their sentence, I'm allowed to release them. Uh, early. We've tried to downsize our population doing that, specifically addressing the at risk population in our facilities. Uh, since we started, we've taken our jail population down by about 18, 19% from roughly 5,500 inmates on any given day to about 45 or just under 4,500 inmates. Uh, again, this is so we can create isolation cells socially distance to the best we can in our facilities, which makes it safer for the inmates and the staff. And we're going to continue to look at, uh, all of our procedures at our facilities. Speaker 1: 07:27 And do you expect to keep releasing inmates from the County jail? Speaker 2: 07:31 I think we're in a number that's manageable now, but we will continue to evaluate on a case by case basis who I can release early looking at our app. Again, our at risk population and a lot of it will depend on if we have more positive Covance tests in our, in our facilities right now I have uh, about 40 inmates in isolation. 39 of them have tested negative for the COBIT virus and I, as I pointed out, one is tested positive, which is good news for our jails, but I realize that could change. Looks like it's changing out in our community. Speaker 1: 08:08 You're taking a lot of precautions. Just see that this virus does not spread through the jails in San Diego County. How concerned are you of that lingering possibility? Speaker 2: 08:22 Well, it's, it's a big concern. We take very seriously the, the health and welfare of the inmates dinner that under, in our custody we have increased the literature that they all receive on how to stay healthy, how to wash their hands out and not to touch their face. Uh, we do a video that plays at least once or twice. I think a day and all the modules to continue to educate our population, while at the same time, we're educating our staff and working on the whole social distancing, uh, aspect of this, this terrible virus. And also, uh, making sure we have enough recording team cells, uh, for those inmates that could be positive, that are symptomatic, that we need to separate from the general population. All right. I've been speaking with San Diego County sheriff bill Gore. Thank you, sheriff Gore. Thank you, Maureen. Thanks for helping me get the word out.

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Over the weekend, the San Diego Sheriff's Department ticketed 22 beachgoers for violating the stay-at-home order. Meanwhile, the department also confirmed four employees and one inmate have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.
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