No flu-based jail-visit restrictions in Placer County

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Unlike the state prison system and some other California counties, Placer County Jail was allowing visitors Tuesday in the face of swine flu concerns. Capt. George Malim, jail commander, said none of the inmates in the main jail or minimum-security annex had been diagnosed with the illness and the Sheriff’s Department was taking precautions that didn’t include turning away visitors. Those precautions include posting advice for inmates, including the recommendation to wash their hands more frequently. Ventura, Tulare and Merced counties have all temporarily banned visits. Visits at all state prisons were suspended on Sunday. The state decision followed a possible case of swine flu being suspected at the Centinela State Prison in Imperial County. The state prison’s acting chief physician executive Dr. Steven Ritter told the Associated Press that the closed doors statewide are a precautionary measure to protect the public, prisoners and prison staff. Lawyer, medical and social worker visits will continue. Malim said visits would continue to be allowed for the 550 inmates under Placer County supervision. The main jail on Richardson Drive in North Auburn has visitors and inmates separated by glass partitions and contacting each other by phone, he noted. The Sheriff’s Department has greater concerns at the smaller minimum-security facility, where the partitions aren’t in place, he said. While there had been no confirmed cases of swine flu in Placer County by late Monday, the county elections division is reminding residents that they still have time to request vote-by-mail ballots that would keep them away from public polling places. Requests for vote-by-mail ballots can be received by the elections division up to 5 p.m. May 12. Vote-by-mail ballots may be issued over the counter at the elections division office through May 19. Jim Gadney, county health assistant director, said Monday that the good news is that Placer has no documented cases. No new tests of samples from the county have tested positive. “And it’s also good news that we’re finding the virus is not moving at an unrealistic pace,” Gadney said. “It’s not progressing alarmingly swiftly.” The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at