Virginia Dept. of Corrections to increase COVID-19 testing among inmates


(Photo: Courtesy MGN Image)

RICHMOND, Va. (WFXR) -– With 116 active COVID-19 cases among inmates and 50 among staff members, the Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) announced Monday morning it will dramatically increase coronavirus testing for incarcerated offenders.

VADOC has already ordered hundreds of extra COVID-19 tests, according to officials, but VCU, UVA, and the Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services will send hundreds more to VADOC facilities. In addition, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) will send staff to VADOC facilities Monday, April 20 to administer tests to inmates, authorities say.

According to a statement released by VADOC on Monday, Virginia correctional facilities are not only testing all symptomatic offenders for the coronavirus, but they also started conducting point prevalence testing on asymptomatic offenders in order to monitor potential cases.

“Getting ahead of cases by testing offenders who aren’t showing symptoms will likely cause the VADOC offender case numbers to increase significantly, just as in the community, where an increase in testing results in more positives. This increase in testing will give the VADOC a better picture of what is happening at each of Virginia’s correctional facilities and will allow us to reduce the spread of the virus.”

Virginia Department of Corrections

Officials say this point prevalence testing has already started at Harrisonburg CCAP and Haynesville Correctional Center, but it will also go into effect at Deerfield Correctional Center this week.

“Deerfield Correctional Center, with a large at-risk population, is following CDC guidelines for long-term care facilities in its assisted living unit and its infirmary. To protect our geriatric and at-risk offenders to the greatest extent possible, the VADOC medical team is working with the state’s eastern regional health department, local health department, health department emergency management, VADOC security operations, Armor Correctional Health Services, UVA, and VCU to test the entire facility and staff. This will begin today, and 1600 tests will be needed.”

Virginia Department of Corrections

According to VADOC, 434 offenders have already been tested for COVID-19 and a total of 139 tested positive, of whom 116 are still active cases. In addition, 50 staff members are also considered active coronavirus cases, officials say. Here is the list of active VADOC COVID-19 cases:

  • Brunswick CCAP: 1 staff member
  • Central Virginia Correctional Unit #13: 22 offenders on-site and 2 staff members
  • Deerfield Correctional Center: 3 staff members
  • Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women: 1 staff member
  • Harrisonburg Men’s CCAP: 17 offenders on-site
  • Haynesville Correctional Center: 44 offenders on-site, 1 offender in the hospital, and 1 staff member
  • State Farm Correctional Complex: 2 staff members
  • Sussex II State Prison: 12 offenders on-site, 2 offenders in the hospital, and 3 staff members
  • Virginia Correctional Center for Women (includes State Farm Work Center): 13 offenders on-site, 5 offenders in the hospital, 35 staff members, and 1 virus-related death of an offender
  • Probation and Parole, Eastern Region: 2 staff members

Offenders and staff at VADOC facilities are required to wear appropriate PPE at all times — including medical-grade PPE, when necessary — but since Virginia Correctional Enterprises manufactures both utility face masks and cleaning supplies with EPA-approval to combat the coronavirus, VADOC says there is no shortage of face masks or cleaning supplies in the facilities.  

For more information about VADOC’s response to the coronavirus, follow this link.

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