Prison outbreaks worsen

Published 1:01 pm Monday, May 4, 2020

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Coronavirus cases at the Dillwyn Correctional Center (DCC) in Buckingham County have more than quintupled since last week, from 37 positive offenders and five positive staff Tuesday, April 28, to 208 positive offenders and five positive staff as of Monday, May 4.

Two DCC inmates have been hospitalized due to complications with COVID-19. More than 22% of the facility’s offender population of 910 have now tested positive.

DCC Warden Dana Ratliffe- Walker said last week a unit at the prison had been exposed to the virus. Virginia Department of Corrections Communications Director Lisa Kinney said Monday all of DCC’s positive test results have since come from two of the facility’s seven buildings used to house inmates.

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Numbers have risen steadily throughout the week, making DCC the source of the largest prison COVID-19 outbreak reported by the VDOC. Buckingham Correctional Center (BCC) was listed Monday as having 10 offenders and two employees who have tested positive for the virus. Two BCC offenders have been hospitalized.

Piedmont Health District Director Dr. H. Robert Nash said last week a 24 to 48-hour lag time is expected between numbers reported by VDOC and coronavirus counts listed on the Virginia Department of Health’s website.

However, Buckingham County’s VDH case count has remained at 137 for three consecutive days, despite VDOC-reported cases rising daily.

Elsewhere in the area, Piedmont Regional Jail (PRJ) Superintendent Jim Davis reported PRJ had four inmates quarantined after testing positive for the coronavirus as of Monday, with three positive officers and four pending test results. Three PRJ inmates have recovered and are awaiting return to the general population.

As of Monday, VDH reported 12 COVID-19 cases stemming from Cumberland County, with 55 total cases in Prince Edward. Lunenburg was listed as having four cases of the virus, and Charlotte County was listed as having nine.

The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association reported Monday 1,463 patients who had been diagnosed or were awaiting results on COVID-19 tests were being treated at Virginia hospitals, with 348 of those patients in the ICU. The state had 193 of its 2,938 ventilators in use. 2,547 of Virginia’s coronavirus patients have recovered and been discharged.

(Herald reporter Titus Mohler contributed to this story.)