MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It won’t be long until inmates at the downtown Memphis jail are breathing the most expensive air in Shelby County.
A state-of-the-art air filtration and purification system is being installed at the Criminal Justice Center. You probably know it as 201 Poplar.
It’s one of the busiest, if not the busiest building in the city.
Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris said at that location, “You’ve got courtroom facilities. You’ve got kitchen facilities. You’ve got a jail, or detention facility. You’ve got a lot of different kinds of operations going on. And we are going to install this ionizing system across all these various operations.”
The jail was considered a COVID-19 hotspot this past summer. Inmates were not the only ones affected.
One cough, one seemingly innocent sneeze could change everything.
Mayor Harris said, “Frequently the droplets are so small, and they remain in the air. And they can remain in the air for a very long time until your system figures out how to discard those particles. So the ionizing system does just that.”
The system costs $1.2 million. Mayor Harris said it will be worth the expense.
“It’s a pretty hefty price tag,” he said, “... but the reason why we are doing it is because this community is particularly vulnerable to an outbreak. We have seen, unfortunately, some outbreaks at our jail and detention center. This is Shelby County trying its best to bend over backwards to really help as many people as possible.”