RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The coronavirus pandemic has made its way inside the Richmond City Jail, with inmates and sheriff’s office staffers testing positive for the virus.
On Tuesday, the Richmond Sheriff’s Office disclosed that three inmates and two staff members tested positive for COVID-19 with no hospitalizations. They say the facility is on the lookout to stop the virus from spreading any further.
One mother whose son is set to be released from the jail on Wednesday told 8News she’s hoping for the best.
“My son called me immediately,” said LaQueeta Massey. “He knows his mom.”
Massey told 8News that the news that three inmates and two staffers at the Richmond City Jail tested positive has her concerned ahead of the release of her son Eean. “It’s really scary,” she explained.
Correctional facilities have been a hotbed for the coronavirus in state and local facilities. Last week, Henrico County said that 125 inmates had tested positive.
It’s unclear how the virus made its way into the Richmond jail. Massey told 8News that she visited last week and saw some precautions at the front.
“I picked up some inventory last week,” she said. “I noticed that they were checking temperatures with the staff that was coming in, and they also checked my temperature.”
The Richmond Sheriff’s Office said in a release Tuesday that new inmates are quarantined in a new arrival area for at least 14 days. According to the sheriff’s office, the inmates who have tested positive are being quarantined
Those who display symptoms or who might have come in contact with the positive inmates and staff are also being quarantined. Testing has been scheduled for those individuals and a contact tracing process has been implemented.
As for more testing, the sheriff’s office says they are “working aggressively” to schedule more tests for the broader population of inmates and staff.
A sheriff’s office spokesperson said Sheriff Antoinette Irving was not available to be on-camera Tuesday to answer 8News’ questions into whether positive diagnoses have gone up since earlier, if mass testing would be a possibility and if release dates for those like Massey’s son may be impacted by the positive cases.
On Wednesday morning, Sheriff Irving responded to our questions. The Richmond sheriff said any inmates scheduled to be released will be released as scheduled.
Irving also said the Richmond Sheriff’s Office is working with the Virginia Department of Health and the National Guard to conduct point prevalence testing.
In regards to the early release of some offenders in light of COVID-19, Sheriff Irving said the Commonwealth’s Attorney and the Department of Corrections are reviewing cases to determine if there are any early release candidates. The Sheriff’s Office would make those possible releases in accordance with court orders and sentencing.