TOWN OF DICKINSON (WBNG) -- Extra safety measures have been put in place across the Southern Tier to combat COVID-19, including at the Broome County Correctional Facility.
Monday Broome County Sheriff David Harder announced the jail would no longer be accepting visitors, at least for the time being. Two people have been tested for the novel coronavirus at the jail so far, but neither tested positive.
Sheriff Harder said it wasn't a decision made lightly, but given the potential harm an outbreak could have in the jail he explained the decision was made in the safety interest of both the inmates and the staff.
He said New York State implemented a similar policy for its facilities, and after consulting with the health department, they determined this was the best way forward. In addition to not allowing visitors, the sheriff's office has also closed its pistol permits office and transitioned some people to work from home to help stop the spread of the virus.
While family members and friends aren't allowed to visit the jail right now, there is one group of people who is.
"The only people that are allowed visitation now are attorneys representing somebody and they go in non-contact visitation we call it, where the inmates on one side of a wall with a glass window, and the attorney is on the other side," Harder told 12 News Tuesday.
Sheriff Harder said because no one is quite sure how long the virus will be in our area, this will have to be indefinite, but he hopes to open visitation back up by the end of May.