Council on Aging suspends programs, Bristol County jail suspends visitation

Mar 13, 2020

The Dartmouth senior center will be suspending all classes and programs through the end of March and the Bristol County House of Corrections will stop all visitation for two weeks due to coronavirus.

According to a statement from the Council on Aging, the council and the Adult Social Day Program will cancel all programming for the rest of the month.

The center will continue to provide outreach services, transportation to medical appointments and any one on one programming previously scheduled.

The Council on Aging’s offices will remain open for routine administrative operations.

The Bristol County Sheriff’s Office has also announced that it will stop visitation to inmates and detainees at the Faunce Corner Road jail for the next two weeks, starting on March 15.

"Although we have no evidence of infection at this point, we must take preventative measures to ensure we are doing all we can to prevent exposure," said Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson.

Visitation will be suspended at all Bristol County correctional facilities: The House of Correction, Women's Center and ICE Detention Center in Dartmouth, and the Ash Street Jail in New Bedford.

Attorneys and clergy/ministers will be allowed to visit during this time but will be screened for fever, illness, or risk factors before entering the facility.

Volunteers will also be suspended from the correctional facilities for two weeks to reduce the number of people in and out of the buildings.

According to the sheriff’s office, suspending visitation may help limit the possibility of exposure.

Other precautions taken to minimize the risk of infection to inmates, staff and vendors at the facilities include cleaning and disinfecting on all three shifts as well as spraying down all prisoner transport vehicles.

“We’ve always had protocol around the flu season,” noted Sheriff Hodgson, adding that the coronavirus protocols are a step up.

Changes include holding new prisoners in a sally port for screening before bringing them directly into the facility, and implementing the six-foot rule – keeping six feet away from others – wherever possible.

Hodgson added that if anyone at the facility shows symptoms or tests positive for Covid-19, they would be sent to an isolation unit in the facility’s medical wing. 

In addition, the office stated that it is discontinuing work-related travel, encouraging proper self-care and hygiene, and recommending employees feeling sick with fever or flu symptoms stay home.

“We will be monitoring inmates and staff closely during the two-week period and will hopefully resume normal visitation and operations soon,” the statement read. “The Sheriff's Office is in constant contact with the state Department of Public Health and the Governor's Office on this matter. This situation is fluid and evolving daily. We will provide updates as soon as possible.”