HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania’s prisons are working to set up video conferences between inmates and family members now that visits have been suspended in an effort to keep the coronavirus from spreading to people inside the institutions.
Corrections Secretary John Wetzel said this week that the service should be available soon to family members in their homes.
It had been available previously between Pennsylvania state prisons, if, say, a family member went to a prison to connect with a relative incarcerated somewhere farther away. But now, families will be able to sign up for 45-minute time slots and use their devices in their homes to video chat with an incarcerated family member.
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Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration suspended all prison visits last Friday for at least two weeks and stepped up screening of employees and vendors, including taking temperatures and asking a series of questions.
Anyone with flu-like symptoms or a temperature of 100.4 degrees is not being allowed in. Wetzel said high-traffic areas are being cleaned constantly and crews are cleaning prisons three times in each eight-hour shift, up from once.
There are no confirmed cases in state prisons. Should an inmate test positive or require quarantine, Wetzel said each prison has a plan to set aside a housing block and limit the number of staff who can enter it.
More information on the Coronavirus pandemic:
- CDC Coronavirus Information
- CDC Global Map of Confirmed COVID-19 Cases
- Pennsylvania Department of Health Information
- Allegheny County Health Department Information
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