KENNEWICK, Wah.-- Like nursing homes, jails across the United States are vulnerable to the spread of communicable diseases like coronavirus.


That's prompted facilities like the Benton County Jail to modify its operations in order to protect inmates and staff from being exposed to the virus.


Anyone who is booked at the Benton County Jail is screened for symptoms of COVID-19 before ever entering the facility, and staff members have been working with his staff to provide extra soap and other sanitation supplies for prisoners.


"We went around to each housing unit with our lead nurse and a supervisor, and explained to all the inmates the importance of hygiene and social distancing, and placed CDC recommendations in all the housing units," said Chief of Corrections Scott Souza.


Souza noted that there are new protocols for booking prisoners in an effort to limit the chances of exposing the jail to coronavirus. That includes refusing to accept new contract inmates, and not accepting offenders who have committed non-violent misdemeanors.


They've also limited access to the jail, by providing the inmates with the chance to use programs like Skype to visit with friends and family members. Attorneys are also offered the chance to meet with clients by using video messaging apps.


"We still have some attorneys, very few, that want to come in and have the face-to-face, but they have the option to Skype their clients,," Souza said.


Souza says just one Benton County Jail staff member has been tested for coronavirus, though he hadn't yet received information about the results of that test.