300 Virginia inmates being retested for COVID-19 after lab ‘mistakenly shipped’ swabs

Virginia News

Three hundred inmates at Buckingham Correctional Center will have to be retested for the novel coronavirus after swabs were “apparently mistakenly shipped” to another facility by the lab running tests on the samples, a spokeswoman with the Virginia Department of Corrections confirmed Wednesday.

VADOC spokeswoman Lisa Kinney told 8News that on April 27 the department delivered 300 offender swabs taken by the staff at Buckingham to the commercial lab Genetworx. The lab, according to Kinney, inadvertently transported the swabs to Bland Correctional Center instead of testing the samples.

“The test samples were too old to be used when discovered by Bland staff on May 4, and were disposed of by Bland’s medical staff, as required,” Kinney said in an email to 8News. “Tracking information was provided to the lab and they are investigating further.”

The department of corrections said the tests were conducted on inmates due to surveillance purposes, not because 300 inmates were showing signs of symptoms.

“We are re-testing these offenders today and Thursday. These were point prevalence tests conducted for surveillance purposes, not tests of symptomatic offenders,” Kinney explained.   

As of Wednesday, VADOC is reporting that 12 Buckingham inmates have tested positive for the virus, with four currently in the hospital. In total, 464 inmates have tested positive and three offenders have died.

Genetworx did not immediately respond to 8News’ request for comment.

Brian Moran, Virginia’s secretary of public safety and homeland security, spoke with 8News’ Ben Dennis about the lost shipment.

“They did not indicate why it happened. It’s unfortunate. It was not DOC’s fault though, and from what I am told is the lab is going to make it up to us and make sure that they are going to absorb any costs,” Moran said. “We are back at Buckingham today, we will be there today and tomorrow. We are going to test everyone symptomatic and asymptomatic. So whether you’re showing signs or not showing signs. We’re going to test all the inmates, we’re going to test all the correctional officers.”

This story is developing. Check back for updates.


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