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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Hamilton County Sheriff: Jail Population Declining Due To Coronavirus

The Hamilton County sheriff said the inmate population at the county justice center is declining as coronavirus concerns increase. 

Jim Neil told reporters Tuesday morning there were 943 prisoners. Just a few weeks ago that number was 1,611.

He said right now there are no inmates exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, and there are plans in place if that changes.

"The general population of inmates who develop symptoms in the justice center will be quarantined in his or her cell and the medical staff will monitor the pod and unit for additional cases," Neil said.

At-risk prisoners, and deputies entering the facility, are getting their temperatures checked once a day. All inmates coming into or out of the jail are also getting their temperatures checked.

Neil also says there are currently no deputies quarantined with COVID-19 symptoms.

The sheriff has stopped all in-person inmate visits at the justice center, and attorneys and police officers can only have non-contact visits with prisoners.

Meanwhile, the sheriff's office will be enforcing the statewide stay-at-home order to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Neil is asking for the public's cooperation, and deputies will be working with residents and businesses.

"There's going to be a lot of education going on, which in effect is warnings to cease and desist this behavior and only take enforcement action as a progressive step if there is non-compliance," Neil said.

For now, the sheriff's department has implemented a "limited response, limited reporting procedure."

Neil said that means deputies will respond to emergencies, crimes in progress, and wrecks for injuries for example.

Deputies will also ask people to step outside their homes when reports are taken.

The department will issue citations and release offenders for all misdemeanors and non-violent offenses.  Those being cited will be asked to report to court on a date to be determined.

Maderia Police Chief Dave Schaefer said his department and others are following the same guidelines.

"We will stay vigilant with our patrols," Schaefer said. "We will be out in the public doing what we have done every day. Everything that you're used to seeing the police officers do, we will continue to do."

The statewide stay-at-home order is in effect through April 6.

Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.