MECOSTA, OSCEOLA, LAKE COUNTIES — As concerns about the coronavirus threat continue, local county jails are looking at their protocols to determine how best to keep the virus from spreading.

Mecosta County Sheriff Todd Purcell said the jail has several possible plans which can be put into effect under the threat of an outbreak.

However, he said, as of Monday morning, the jail is operating normally, as there have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus among jail staff or inmates, but they are monitoring the situation as it develops.

"Within the jail — because it is a secure facility — we have the ability to quarantine any inmate that may fall ill," he said.

Purcell said public visits also were continuing as usual Monday.

"We're still evaluating (limiting public visits), but we haven't limited anything as of yet," he said.

In Osceola County, Sheriff Ed Williams said additional steps have been taken to reduce the possibility of the coronavirus spreading through the jail and to the public.

One of these steps has been to limit the number of inmates being lodged at the jail, based on the offense they were arrested for.

Williams said an email was sent out to agencies which work with the Osceola County Jail on Friday asking that only people arrested on a felony or violent misdemeanor warrant, such as domestic violence, be brought to the jail. This went into effect immediately, he said.

In addition to accepting fewer inmates, Williams said as of Monday, all public visits were postponed until further notice. In lieu of public visits, he said every inmate will receive two free 15-minute phone calls a week.

While these precautions are being taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Williams said the jail also is keeping an eye on the health of the current inmates.

"If we have someone coming in with a fever above a certain level, they would be sent to the emergency room for evaluation before coming into the jail," he said.

He said the jail received thermometers Friday which will allow staff to check an inmate's temperature without touching them, with the hopes of maintaining the health of the jail staff.

Williams said anyone who is found to be sick also can be quarantined from the rest of the population to limit the spread of the virus.

"We do have individual cells they can be isolated in for evaluation," he said.

Along with these steps to monitor the health of the inmates lodged in the local county jails, Purcell and Williams said all jail staff are encouraged to stay home if they are feeling ill.

"The number one thing is, we're still trying to serve the community as best as we can," Williams said.

On Friday, the Lake County Sheriff's Office posted a message on Facebook stating it would suspend inmate visitation and entry of non-essential staff, until further notice.

"These procedures are intended to keep critical functions of the jail operational and to accommodate and support the rights of the individuals incarcerated in the Lake County Jail and protect the health and safety of staff, public and inmates," the post read.

"Hopefully, these necessary measures will only be for a short time. We look forward to resuming normal operating procedures as soon as possible."