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Virginia Beach Sheriff's Office is in need of COVID-19 protection equipment

VBSO needs to find more personal protection equipment for deputies and inmates.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Virginia Beach Sheriff Ken Stolle said he's never witnessed the courthouse being closed for more than a week.

During the closure, Stolle has focused on ways to protect deputies and inmates amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Sheriff Stolle has made immediate changes to daily operations. 

"We spent about $40 thousand at the sheriff's office already on COVID-19 and preparing and equipment and stuff like that," said Stolle. 

Stolle said the personal protection equipment is crucial.

"To protect the integrity of the jail system and the deputies that work here I need more masks, need equipment to make it safe for the deputies to work here," said Stolle. 

Virginia Beach Public information officer Kathy Hieatt said deputies have to take their own temperature before entering the building. 

But there's an issue.

Stolle said thermometers are hard to find. 

Hieatt pointed out they also have to check the inmates. 

"For inmates, we have an extensive medical screening in place and are automatically placing all new admissions into quarantine for 14 days before they can go into general population. If an inmate has symptoms, they are placed in medical isolation and evaluated by our medical staff. So far, only one inmate has been tested for COVID-19 and the test results were negative," said Hieatt. 

Funds to get more equipment are coming to Virginia Beach and other qualified cities. 

The Department of Justice sent out $16 million to split between all law enforcement and local governments in the state. It's part of the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding Program. 

"And it's $258 thousand. I think it will be divided between our needs, the police department's needs and I think the fire department and Commonwealth's Attorney's Office," said Stolle. 

Stolle said the department uses more than 200 masks per week.

As an extra precaution, the VBSO released 250 non-violent offenders to make more room for a quarantined section.

The Virginia Beach courthouse closure runs through April 26th.