The Bulletin

More than 1,000 COVID-19 cases confirmed in Virginia prisons; death toll rises to six

By: - May 26, 2020 1:59 pm

Central Virginia Correctional Unit 13, a women’s prison in Chesterfield, had numerous reported COVID-19 cases among inmates and staff members. (Julia Rendleman/ For the Virginia Mercury)

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases among Virginia prisoners passed the 1,000 mark over Memorial Day weekend, according to the official tally maintained by the Virginia Department of Corrections.

As of Monday at 5 p.m., officials reported 1,141 total cases, 12 hospitalizations and six deaths.

Virginia has the 10th highest rate of cases among state prisoners, with more than three cases for every 100 inmates, according to The Marshall Project, which has partnered with the Associated Press to track COVID-19 in correctional settings in all 50 states.

The rate of cases is 719 percent higher than in Virginia overall, though that number is influenced by mass testing conducted in a handful of facilities, which revealed hundreds of non-symptomatic cases.

Virginia prison officials struck confident tone as COVID-19 spread. Now cases are soaring.

Officials reported the prison system’s sixth fatality from the virus Monday. Prison officials are not publicly identifying inmates who die of the disease, but described him as a 54-year-old man with underlying health conditions, including hypertension, asthma and hyperlipidemia, according to NBC12. Officials said the man was serving a sentence for rape and aggravated sexual battery of a child.

The General Assembly approved an early release plan proposed by Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration last month. Officials said about 2,000 inmates with less than a year to serve and a record of good behavior are eligible. So far, the department reports 226 people have been released though the program.

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Ned Oliver
Ned Oliver

Ned, a Lexington native, has been a fulltime journalist since 2008, beginning at The News-Gazette in Lexington, and including stints at the Berkshire Eagle, in Berkshire County, Mass., and the Times-Dispatch and Style Weekly in Richmond. He is a graduate of Bard College at Simon’s Rock, in Great Barrington, Mass. He was named Virginia's outstanding journalist for 2020 by the Virginia Press Association. Contact him at [email protected]