ST. CLOUD -- Calls to Stearns County's Dispatch Center were down slightly last month. There were 19,600 calls made in March this year compared to about 21,000 last year. However, Sheriff Steve Soyka says it's probably more weather-related than anything.

Honestly probably the reason we took more calls last year, last March was a bad weather month, we had a lot of snow and slippery roads so we ended up with more accidents and people in the ditch, and so we'll take a few more calls because of that.

Soyka says the lower call volume this year is also due in part to the Governor's Stay At Home order. He says traffic volume in greater Minnesota was down about 70 percent last weekend.

On the flip side, dispatchers did take several calls related to the coronavirus last weekend.

We took about 40 to 50 calls from citizens, mostly in the metro area here, from people that felt may the Governor's order was being violated.

Soyka says his office is handling those calls as more educational and hasn't been fining anyone.

If you do have a question or concern about the coronavirus or the Stay At Home order, rather than call 9-1-1, you are urged to call the hotline number 800-657-3504 between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.

Meanwhile, the Stearns County Jail is much quieter these days. Soyka says they've made some changes in response to the coronavirus. He says one example is the people who are on work release.

There's about 15 of them doing that daily.  Obviously, when they go out in society they have the potential to contract COVID, we didn't want them bringing that back into the jail. so we shut down that particular program.  They've all been given report back dates.

Soyka says if COVID-19 got into the jail it would spread like wildfire. He says they do have a unit set-up for people who have to be in jail and are showing symptoms of the coronavirus.

The Sheriff says his deputies and staff have all remained healthy so far.

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