(WRIC) — The Virginia Corrections Officer’s Union is calling on the governor to start widespread testing in state prisons.
Dated Tuesday, April 28, the National Coalition of Public Safety Officers (NCPSO) sent a letter to Governor Ralph Northam asking, once more, for COVID-19 testing for all officers, staff, offenders, and residents at the Department of Corrections and the Department of Juvenile Justice.
The plea comes after more than 400 offenders and staff combined have tested positive for COVID-19. Two offenders have died.
“These facilities are a microcosm of the community at large with one main difference, social distancing is not an option for officers and staff,” said Donald Baylor, Virginia Director for NCPSO. “These cases continue to rise and we must start with the facilities that have been most affected, test everyone just like Deerfield, and then move to every other location in order for us to have the data to know what must be done.”
Baylor adds in the letter that he receives “calls every day from officers who are scared, afraid to speak out but still want to stand their post.”
“We must test everyone in these facilities and those who regularly enter,” Baylor said. “It is concerning that many testing positive show no symptoms, and how else will we get a handle on the facilities where this deadly virus has taken hold unless we know who has it. We asked last week about widespread testing and were told at that time there was not a plan, well now is the time.”