RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Two inmates at a Virginia prison who tested positive for COVID-19 died on Saturday as the state struggled with an outbreak of more than 400 active cases at a prison that houses many older and ailing male inmates.
Lisa Kinney, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Corrections, said in a news release that 407 inmates at the Deerfield Correctional Center in Capron currently have the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. Kinney said a total of six Deerfield inmates have died from COVID-19, the most deaths at any prison in Virginia.
Virus testing is ongoing throughout DOC facilities. Deerfield recently tested the entire population of approximately 925 inmates. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that 22 inmates at Deerfield are currently hospitalized.
Virginia prison officials say more than 10% of the state’s 27,000 inmates have now tested positive for COVID-19. A total of 19 inmates have died.
The DOC said most offenders being tested have no symptoms; the DOC is conducting point prevalence testing to catch cases before there are any symptoms. That early testing of asymptomatic offenders is helping to keep the virus from spreading throughout the prison system.
“The doctors, nurses, and medical staff at the DOC are working around the clock to test and provide care to offenders during this pandemic,” Kinney said.
The Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women — the state’s largest prison for women — recently reported its first major outbreak of 41 cases.
The Department of Corrections said it has followed CDC and state Department of Health guidelines in taking measures to stop COVID-19 from entering the prisons and limiting its spread inside.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the highly contagious virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal.