Three Wayne County jails are the first in the nation to install a groundbreaking biodefense system to combat the spread of COVID-19.
The Integrated Viral Protection (IVP) technology, billed as the world’s first heated filtration system proven to destroy the coronavirus, uses heat to destroy airborne viruses and recirculate clean air.
A dozen units have been installed in three jails and will soon be placed in the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office headquarters and Road Patrol office, county officials announced Thursday.
"Ensuring the health and safety of our personnel, clerical staff and inmate population is our highest priority," Sheriff Raphael Washington said in a news release. "The pandemic has challenged us to take every precaution possible and these systems are just another tool we can use to maintain that commitment to reducing health threats now and in the future. It is likely mitigation efforts are here to stay.”
The devices couldn’t come sooner. Jails and prisons have become breeding grounds for the coronavirus. In May, several attorneys and civil rights group filed a federal class-action lawsuit
against the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, alleging inmates are confined to a small space without adequate soap, running water, or testing. The inmates were forced to share showers, meal tables, and telephones that are infrequently cleaned, according to the suit.
In December, COVID-19 claimed the life
of Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, who was 65.
"Prior to his passing, he continuously researched options for increasing health safety, and I know he would have insisted this ground-breaking technology be installed to enhance mitigation efforts throughout the organization," Washington said. "We will continue pursuing every option available until this health threat is eliminated."
In Macomb County, the coronavirus infected more than a quarter of the jail’s 550 inmates and at least 30 employees late last year. The outbreak occurred on two floors of the jail. Of the 250 inmates on those floors, 243 tested positive.
Statewide, more than 25,000 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19, and about 140 have died, since the pandemic began in March. More than 125 staff members also were infected.
The goal is to install the new units in more jails.
"IVP is helping people breathe with confidence and more safely reopen our economy with proven solutions that raise the quality of indoor air," said Dr. Garrett Peel, IVP co-founder. "By following the CDC guidelines and providing clean, pathogen-free air in buildings, we are using science to engineer our way out of this public health crisis."
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