MIAMI – In addition to temporarily stopping all inmate visitations, the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office is screening new inmates and quarantining them from others that have been at the jail for some time.

“We are prescreening all the inmates that come in before they are let into the jail itself. We take their temperature and a small medical survey. If they aren’t showing any signs or symptoms at that moment, then we are allowing them to come in and start the booking process,” Sheriff Jeremy Floyd said.

“We are even going as far as quarantining new inmates in a different pod as best we can. Since our numbers are low we are keeping those folks separated so they don’t mingle with the inmates that have been here for some time. We are trying to curb this pandemic as much as we can,” Floyd said.

The Sheriff’s Office will also be doing video arraignments as much as possible, after the county purchased a Chromebook this week for that purpose.

“We set the judges up on a Skype account in addition to on our new Chromebook that we got from the county. During our trial run it worked great. It’s always a good security measure when we don’t have to transfer the inmates back and forth to the courthouse,” Floyd continued.

“Judge Denney has applied for a grant to put smartboards in all the courtrooms and in the jail for future court arraignments. It’s safer all the way around.”

According to Miami Police Chief Thomas Anderson, the Miami Police Department began taking precautions against exposure to the coronavirus last week to ensure the health and safety of the community and all responders.

Officers are still on the job 24/7, but some procedures have changed and new ones have been implemented.

When possible, officers will contact citizens by phone for minor non-emergency and “not in progress” calls to complete incident reports. For example, if a person calls the MPD in reference to past fraud they will be asked to allow an officer to take the report over the phone rather than responding to location. However, officers continue to patrol the city streets and respond to emergency and in progress calls.

The health and safety of Miami’s responders and the public are top priorities, so the department is asking for understanding if officers take additional safety precautions as they deem fit or stand further away than normal.

For those in need of a copy of a report, e-mail mlong@miamiokla.net or pick up and fill out a release of information form in the lobby of the police department and place it in the basket along with your e-mail address and contact information so you can be reached if there are any questions.

In addition, the MPD is warning area residents about possible fraud that is taking place regarding the virus.

Scams linked to the virus include calling victims pretending to be clinic or hospital officials, who claim that a relative of the victim has fallen sick with the virus and request payments for medical treatment. The scams also include e-mails claiming to be from health authorities with the aim of tricking victims into providing personal credentials or payment details, or to open an attachment containing malware.

In many cases, they impersonate legitimate companies, using similar names, websites, and e-mail addresses to trick members of the public, even reaching out proactively via e-mails and messages on social media.

Be wary of unsolicited e-mails offering medical equipment or requesting your personal information for medical checks — legitimate health authorities do not normally contact the public in this manner.

If you believe you have been the victim of fraud, alert your bank immediately.

While there have not been any reports of such activity in Ottawa County, the MPD wants to be sure the community is aware of the possibility.

Schools around Ottawa County are waiting until a meeting Wednesday of the State Board of Education to determine if school will resume after the quarantine is lifted, or if they will remain closed for the remainder of this school year.

Area schools have instituted programs to help feed students.

Income tax payments normally due April 15 will be deferred for three months, according to the Oklahoma Tax Commission, similar to what the Internal Revenue Service announced earlier this week. The deferment includes 2019 income taxes and first quarter 2020 payments for individual and corporate filers. Even though the OTC is allowing deferred payments, taxes still must be filed by April 15.

Because income taxes are the state's leading revenue source, deferring the payments is likely to have an impact on the state’s current budget, resulting in a $215 million to $225 million revenue shortfall this fiscal year. If so it could mean the state will have to tap into its $1 billion reserve, which would eventually be recovered through the deferred payments that begin July 1.