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Jail, prison say they have no positive cases of COVID-19

The Piedmont Regional Jail (PRJ) and Farmville Detention Center had no reported cases of COVID-19 as of Monday morning, April 20, while the Virginia Department of Corrections announced it was dramatically increasing testing of inmates in its facilities.

“We have four inmates in isolation due to higher than normal temperatures, who will be tested today by the Health Department,” PRJ Superintendent Jim Davis said Monday morning.

He noted the jail is doing all it can to prevent the spread of the virus by following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for corrections on how to prevent and handle positive cases.

Farmville Detention Center Director Jeffrey Crawford had good news to report Monday morning on the status of his facility.

“Thankfully, there are no cases of COVID-19 among staff or detainees, nor have there been,” he said.

In a Monday press release, the Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) announced it has worked with its partners at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), the University of Virginia (UVA) and the Virginia Department of Health to dramatically increase testing of incarcerated offenders.

“The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) will today send staff to VADOC facilities to assist with the increased testing,” officials said in the release. “The VADOC has ordered hundreds of additional tests, and VCU, UVA and the Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services are also sending hundreds of tests to VADOC facilities.”

Officials noted in the release that the medical professionals at VADOC are working around the clock to provide care to offenders during this pandemic. The VADOC is testing all symptomatic offenders. To date, 434 VADOC offenders had been tested for COVID-19, while 116 offenders had active COVID-19 cases, and 50 staff members had active COVID-19 cases.

“In addition to testing symptomatic offenders, the VADOC last week began point prevalence testing,” officials stated in the release. “This involves testing asymptomatic offenders and gives us a snapshot in time, testing for surveillance purposes rather than just symptoms. This enables us to monitor and treat positive cases sooner, rather than after symptoms develop. Point prevalence testing has been done at Harrisonburg CCAP and Haynesville Correctional Center, and will be done this week at Deerfield Correctional Center.”

Getting ahead of cases by testing offenders who are not 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, the release noted.

“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,” officials said in the release.