San Joaquin County officials have been monitoring the new coronavirus outbreak and have announced some changes in operations.
Supervisors ratified the declaration of a local health emergency during a special board meeting Tuesday morning. That declaration allows the county to seek mutual aid, potentially receive reimbursement and ensure that public health professionals and health care providers have the personal protective equipment they need.
Sheriff Pat Withrow said in his weekly address on social media that there were no reported cases of COVID-19 at the county jail in French Camp, and some changes were being made to keep it that way
When people arrive at the county jail for booking, before they are introduced into the jail population, they undergo extensive testing and nurses ask questions specifically regarding the symptoms of COVID-19.
“They are checking temperatures and all that type of thing, and anybody that would show any type of signs of cold or flu, they’re separated out from everybody else to keep the rest of the inmate population safe,” Withrow said. “We’re going to do what’s ever best for our citizens that are incarcerated here and we’re making sure we take care of them. And that all starts by making sure we’re checking everybody that comes in.”
At the county’s honor farm, visitors are usually allowed to sit face to face with inmates. Those visits have been stopped for safety reasons, to prevent the spread of the virus, but people can stay in touch with honor farm inmates by mail, which is unlimited. Visiting at the main jail is continuing as normal for now because visitors and inmates are separated by a pane of glass.
With schools closed and many public meetings canceled, deputies who were assigned to them are being shifted to patrols. Similarly, deputies working at the county’s courts or civil division will be reassigned to patrols if they are not needed there.
The San Joaquin County Superior Court announced Wednesday that it was suspending most of its operations during the coronavirus pandemic.
Effective Thursday, all San Joaquin County courthouses are closed to the public with very few exceptions.
Everyone who received a notice to appear for jury duty during the weeks of March 16, March 23 and March 30 is excused and should not go to the courthouse.
Misdemeanor and felony jury trials scheduled between now and April 17 will be rescheduled. Traffic hearings and trials and all civil proceedings set for that period will also be rescheduled. Traffic court “walk-in” appearances are suspended through April 3, and citation dates will be extended.
Court officials are working on a plan for in-custody arraignment of adults as safety constraints permit.
The court’s self-help center is closed, but people can call 992-5852 or use the online services at www.sjcourts.org.
For information: San Joaquin County Superior Court, 992-5555.