ST. CLOUD -- The Stearns County Sheriff's office has announced some changes to their operations to help limit the potential risk of exposure to and the spread of COVID-19.

Sheriff Steve Soyka says they will be canceling all outside programming and visiting hours for jail inmates, all incoming arrest will have health screenings in jail garage prior to entering facility and the possibility of initial court hearings being heard over closed circuit television. During this time, jail staff will work to enhance programming for inmates and each inmate will be provide with 20 free minutes per week of phone usage.

In regards to patrol, Soyka says they will be conducting health screenings over the phone on all medical type calls, offer the choice to talk over the phone for non-criminal complaints, and try to enacting social distancing when able.

Soyka says these new protocols will be in place for up to 30 days.

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