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Clearing the Air, York County Prison Seeks $2.5 Million Air Purifier System

25 Nov 2023, Jail News, by

York County takes a proactive approach to COVID-19 defense and seeks $2.5M funding for an air purification system for York County Prison.

Clearing the Air, York County Prison Seeks $2.5 Million Air Purifier System - Inmate Lookup

An additional $2 million in COVID-19 grant funding is requested by York County officials to acquire an air purifier system for the York County Prison. Initially, in September, the county applied for over $300,000 through a COVID-19 Mitigation Grant. The new request amounts to $2.5 million for an Active Pure air purifier system, a technology under scrutiny for its purportedly superior COVID-19 treatment capabilities.

Warden Adam Ogle, speaking at a meeting, explained the decision to reevaluate the system through Germ Solutions, the provider of ActivePure.

Germ Solutions employs a system where air passes through a light system. Notably, ActivePure Technologies enlisted a former coronavirus adviser, Deborah Birx, in 2021. According to reports, since 2021, Philadelphia schools have adopted ActivePure technologies despite concerns raised by air quality specialists.

A critical point of contention is the system’s reliance on ozone, a molecule known to exacerbate respiratory ailments, as part of its disinfecting technology. Filters of the same kind have been prohibited in the state of California.

Ogle expressed confidence in the system during the meeting, citing a demonstration by Germ Solutions that showcased significant decreases in infection rates in healthcare facilities using the technology. However, Ogle emphasized that the county could choose not to implement the technology if conflicting information emerges.

The county discovered unexpectedly available funds, leading to a substantially increased grant application. Ogle clarified that the state allocated funds based on class size with the aim of reimbursing funds already spent on COVID-19.

If the grant funding falls short of the requested amount, Ogle intends to collaborate with the county’s medical provider and Germ Solutions to determine coverage based on the available budget. The goal is to utilize grant funding exclusively for product implementation.

Solicitor Don Reihart endorsed the product. At a November 15 Prison Board meeting, he noted its potential positive impact on inmate and staff health. He considered it a good deal if it would be funded by the federal government.

Before the vote, Ogle reiterated confidence in the system, emphasizing its widespread use in hospitals worldwide and the potential for York County Prison to become one of the safest places in the county or even the state with its implementation.

The increased grant amount, subject to state approval, contributes to a series of costly upgrades at the prison.

Notably, with the relocation of central booking from York County Judicial Center to York County Prison, the county has authorized more than $200,000 in change orders related to improvements to security and unexpected occurrences during construction. It was initially estimated at $3.3 million, which was approved by the Prison Board of Inspectors. This increased to $5.7 million after the Board of Commissioners approved four bids for the project in May.

According to a report, overtime expenses at York County Prison pose ongoing challenges, with the county exceeding its budget. As of October, the county spent $328,097 on 6,623 hours of overtime this year, surpassing the 2022 figures.

Despite a 1.2% budget surplus through October, concerns persist about the prison’s overtime spending, which is currently 110% over budget for the year.