3 correctional facilities in West Virginia report more than 100 active cases of COVID-19

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CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation say there are currently 1,099 active cases of COVID-19 in the correctional facilities across the state.

According to the WV DHHR COVID-19 dashboard, 875 of those with active cases are inmates and 224 are confirmed staff members.

The three facilities reporting the largest active outbreaks among inmates are Lakin Correctional Center in Mason County with 160 active cases, Mount Olive Correctional Center in Fayette County with 134 active cases, and Central Regional Jail. northern Doddridge County with 120 active cases.

DHHR and DCR also report that nine active cases have been confirmed among residents of state juvenile detention centers, with 46 active cases reported among detention center staff.

Although DHHR does not specify which facility employees work at, the state’s COVID-19 dashboard also shows 44 active cases among regional prison staff, 113 active cases among correctional facility staff, 12 active cases among community corrections staff and nine active cases among non. – staff of the establishment.

According to Lawrence Messina, director of communications and public relations for the West Virginia State Department of Homeland Security, throughout the pandemic, DCR has observed a pattern of spikes and rising cases in correctional facilities reflecting spikes and increases in communities across the state. He adds that all facilities followed CDC and DHHR guidelines, including testing, quarantining, screening for symptoms and adhering to cleaning protocols to mitigate the spread as much as possible.

“Throughout the pandemic, DCR has followed a special protocol to identify the best advice from CDC and DHHR to incorporate into how we respond to COVID-19,” Messina said. “The active cases we are seeing now are also not all-time highs for any of these facilities. The active caseloads at our facilities reflect very well the spread we are seeing in the community. »

West Virginia COVID-19 cases in correctional facilities compared to COVID-19 data in the rest of the state. (Graphic Courtesy: Lawrence Messina, Director of Communications and Public Relations, West Virginia State Department of Homeland Security)

Messina also says the DCR has a supply of COVID-19 vaccines in all facilities that are offered to inmates throughout their incarceration. He says facilities also provide inmates with important information regarding vaccines and vaccine safety. For residents of juvenile detention centers under the age of 18, their parent or guardian must provide consent for their child to receive the vaccine.

State health officials say a total of 1,900 staff and 5,946 inmates and residents have recovered throughout the pandemic.

The state’s first major outbreak in a correctional facility occurred in May 2020 at Huttonsville Correctional Center in Randolph County, following the first reported case of COVID-19 in an inmate in Mountain State. . The outbreak has led West Virginia Governor Jim Justice to order COVID-19 testing for every inmate and correctional officer in the state.

A total of 23 detainees are confirmed to have died in connection with the virus, all men between the ages of 37 and 88. The DCR says there are a total of eight possible inmate deaths related to COVID-19 and they are awaiting death certificates to confirm whether those deaths were due to the virus.

Just last week, the state confirmed the third death of a West Virginia correctional officer, 51-year-old Correctional Officer II Paula Jo Tomlin of Middleport, Ohio, who worked at Lakin Correctional Center. The first confirmed COVID-19 related death of a corrections officer was confirmed in January 2021 when the DCR announced the death of the 58-year-old corporal. Mark Rustemeyer who had worked at Saint Marys Correctional Center in County Pleasants since 1998. In February 2021, the DCR announced that a second correctional officer, Lt. Delmar Dean, 49, had died in connection with COVID-19. He had worked at the Northern Regional Jail and Correctional Facility.

Health officials say there are no active cases of COVID-19 among inmates at Potomac Highlands Regional Jail in Hampshire County, Martinsburg Correctional Center in Berkeley County, Central Ohio County Corrections in Ohio County or Charleston Community Corrections in Kanawha County. There are also no cases among residents of the Gene Spadaro Juvenile Center in Fayette County, the JM “Chick” Buckbee Juvenile Center in Hampshire County, the Lorrie Yeager Jr. Juvenile Center in the Wood County, from the Robert L. Shell Juvenile Center in Cabell County. , the Sam Perdue Juvenile Center in Mercer County, the James H “Tiger” Morton Juvenile Center in Kanawha County, or the Vicki V. Douglas Juvenile Center in Ohio County.

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