Oct. 27, 2020
COVID-19 fight continues, W.Va. Corrections holding its own
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – More than seven months into the
COVID-19 pandemic, West Virginia has had among the nation’s fewest prison
inmate cases. But with warnings of a coming wave and widespread “COVID
fatigue,” the state is resolved to keep up its guard.
Virginia prisons have had the 10th-lowest number of inmate infections among
states and the federal system, according to data tracked by The Marshall Project in partnership
with The Associated Press. The W.Va. Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation
has so far reported 337 confirmed inmate cases in its prisons. Among 44 states
with available figures and the federal system, West Virginia has the 16th-lowest
rate of cases per 100,000 inmates.
think it’s a reflection of the comprehensive plan we put in place at the onset,
and the work that everybody in Corrections has been doing,” Corrections
Commissioner Betsy Jividen said. “We couldn’t do it without the great
cooperation that we’re getting from all of our partners, and cooperation of the
credited the ongoing support from Gov. Jim Justice and Secretary Jeff Sandy,
whose Department of Homeland Security includes DCR, as well as the W.Va.
National Guard and Department of Health and Human Resources.
also working with the local health departments in every county where we have a
facility,” Jividen said. “I’m glad to give a shout-out to this cooperative
effort and all these people who deserve a share of the credit for this.”
DCR posts testing results and related information
daily for all of its facilities on West Virginia’s main website for its
COVID-19 response, coronavirus.wv.gov.
West Virginia reported the state’s first COVID-19 case on March 17, and its
first inmate positive was confirmed just over two months later.
Marshall Project and AP data does not include jails, which in West Virginia are
operated by DCR. The state’s 10 regional jails have so far seen 75 infected
inmates, with no active cases. Only 10 of the prison inmate cases were still
active as of late Monday, all at the Martinsburg Correctional Center. There
have been three confirmed inmate deaths systemwide: two from the Mount Olive
Correctional Complex and one from the South Central Regional Jail. All three
died while receiving care at outside hospitals.
and her leadership team developed and implemented DCR’s COVID-19 response plan
in March, embracing the key recommendations and guidelines from DHHR and the
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The plan’s ongoing measures
include restricted movement between facilities, required screenings at all
entrances, and medical isolation and quarantining when necessary including when
done repeated rounds of enhanced testing of the entire population,” Jividen
said. “We’ve been doing contact tracings in coordination with the local health
departments. We’ve been doing targeted testing in response to those results. We
monitor and test as appropriate, as needed, as recommended.”
has recently begun randomly testing 10 percent of its facility staff every
week, mindful of community spread’s role in the pandemic. Four staff systemwide
are currently positive, while another 159 DCR and contract employees have
correctional officers, staff and leadership have proved crucial to preventing
or limiting COVID-19 from entering the state’s prisons, jails and juvenile
centers. Already carrying out one of the toughest jobs in the state, DCR’s
employees continue to handle all those inherent challenges in addition to the
daily fight against COVID-19.
said she hopes the dedication of the men and women of Corrections help inspire their
fellow West Virginians to keep following the guidance from Gov. Justice and the
are working hard every day to keep up our vigilance,” Jividen said. “We know we
have challenges we’re trying to meet. We know that we have some dark days
possibly ahead of us. We must not let our guard down.”
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