Two Buckingham correctional centers have serious outbreaks of COVID-19

Published 12:57 pm Tuesday, April 28, 2020

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As the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reports another large jump in COVID-19 cases for Buckingham County Tuesday, April 28, the Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC) website is showing 51 of those cases are coming out of local correctional facilities.

VDH’s website currently lists Buckingham County as having 55 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus. That’s up 10 cases from the 45 reported Monday and 20 cases from the 35 reported Sunday.

Buckingham County Emergency Management Coordinator Cody Davis said Monday the large jump in cases could be attributed to specific facilities in the county.

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According to VDOC’s coronavirus update webpage, there are 37 offenders from the Dillwyn Correctional Center that have tested positive for the virus, along with five staff members.

The Buckingham Correctional Center is currently listed as having seven offenders who have tested positive, as well as two staff members.

The numbers, if accurate, would mean that 51 of the 55 VDH reported cases in the county stem from correctional centers, most of which are at the Dillwyn center.

Davis said Tuesday he is confident that more than four of the county’s 55 cases exist outside of the correctional centers, which may be a result of the two websites being updated at separate times.

“I believe once the VDH site incorporates all Buckingham citizen cases and is caught up with reporting the DOC case count, our number will grow significantly,” Davis said. “I do believe a large portion of our VDH reported current cases are associated with DOC, but not 94%. It is difficult for all of the reporting agencies to get their numbers completely in sync as test results are flowing in non-stop.”

Davis said the Dillwyn Correctional Center made the county aware of its first positive COVID-19 test in the middle of last week, with Buckingham Correctional Center’s first positive coming only a day or so later. Dillwyn Correctional Center has approximately 910 inmates. Buckingham Correctional Center has 1,127 inmates.

“Unfortunately Dillwyn’s numbers have significantly increased, thereby impacting the county’s overall numbers,” Dillwyn Correctional Center Warden Dana Ratliffe-Walker said. “The initial positives were in the same housing unit and have now exposed the unit to the virus. We have tested others in the unit and will possibly have other cases identified.”

The VDH is reporting 11 cases of the coronavirus in Cumberland County as of Monday, with Prince Edward County now holding at 41 cases.

Piedmont Regional Jail (PRJ) Superintendent Jim Davis said Tuesday morning that the jail currently has five inmates who have actively tested positive for the virus, one inmate that has been released from quarantine and two inmates with pending tests. He also said one staff member has tested positive for COVID-19, with two results pending.

He said the entire facility will be sanitized this week and every week until jail officials are satisfied with the reduction of the virus. Jail staff will continue to sanitize the jail in between the commercial treatment.

“Today we are cleaning all of our HVAC units and replacing the air filters,” he added. “We are trying to prevent the virus from spreading.”

VDH is reporting 14,339 virus cases in the commonwealth and 492 virus-related deaths.

Updated statistics from the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association show there are currently 1,508 hospitalized with confirmed cases of coronavirus or tests that are pending. Of those patients, 376 patients are in the ICU. The state currently has 217 of its 2,987 ventilators in use for these patients. The stats show that 1,914 patients who have been diagnosed with the virus have gotten better and been discharged from the hospital so far.

(Herald reporter Titus Mohler contributed to this story.)