Visits to Alaska’s prisons and jails are temporarily suspended as a precaution against the new coronavirus, state corrections officials announced Friday.
Visitors, including volunteers and other groups, will not be allowed into any Department of Corrections facilities, according to the announcement.
“I recognize how important family contact is to both inmates and their loved ones, so I am looking into other options to be sure communication continues while visiting is suspended,” Corrections Commissioner Nancy Dahlstrom said in a release from the department.
Criminal bookings will now include questions that screen for COVID-19, the release said.
The department also said it is hiring more inmates to clean the facilities and certain “high-use areas” more often.
The corrections department is giving “additional hygiene products” to inmates for free, according to the release. The department said it is raising awareness about disease prevention and handwashing with posters around the facilities.
Facilities are being stocked with medical supplies in case of an outbreak.
The corrections department said it is waiving co-pays associated with health care in prisons “to ensure individual economic concerns do not limit an inmates’ willingness to seek medical care.”
The release said that the corrections department is working with the state Department of Law and the court system in case a hearing needs to happen remotely.
“At this time, the Department is being proactive instead of reactive. Due to the nature of the environment and the challenges we face with regard to social distancing, it is important we are staying ahead of this,” Dahlstrom said in the release.