The Comanche County Detention Center is preparing to open to the public and and to house new arrestees, jail administrator Bill Hobbs said at Monday’s county commissioners’ meeting.

The jail houses 275 inmates with a maximum capacity of 283, but must drop to 95 percent capacity, or 269 inmates, before Oklahoma State Commissioner of Health Col. Lance T. Frye will allow the facility to reopen to visitors and new arrestees. At 95 percent capacity, this will allow the facility to maintain empty cells should the need to quarantine arise and provide sufficient space for housing groups of future detainees, Hobbs said.

After some inmates and staff members tested positive for COVID-19 at the facility last month, all new detainees have been transported and held at Tillman County, which holds 37 Comanche County inmates.

“We’re working with the Department of Health on a Plan of Correction before we can open up,” Hobbs said. “They’re requiring us to change our capacity as far as what we hold at the jail so that we can have cells available for quarantine.”

Oklahoma State Epidemiologist Dr. Aaron Wendelboe cleared the detention center for the return of inmates housed at North Fork Correctional Center and Mable Bassett Correctional Center last week and all inmates were returned to Comanche County by June 24, Hobbs said in a press release.

DOC began transferring inmates who tested negative for COVID-19 to its North Fork and Mabel Bassett correctional centers May 21, initially leaving the Lawton facility as a quarantine center for inmates who had tested positive. DOC officials said moving inmates out of the jail made it easier to set up quarantine areas to keep inmates separated.

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