The Chesapeake Correctional Center had an increased number of inmates who tested positive for coronavirus. They have been moved to a separate building.
CHESAPEAKE, Va. — In response to a coronavirus outbreak at the Chesapeake Correctional Center, the sheriff’s office created a new housing unit for inmates who tested positive for COVID-19.
The unit, which is located in an auxiliary building behind the correctional center, keeps those infected with the disease separated from the jail’s general population.
“From the beginning, we have been hoping for the best and preparing for the worst,” said Sheriff Jim O’Sullivan. “This is our first outbreak. Our COVID-unit is now open and staffed. With the help of many city and state agencies, the Virginia Department of Health, and the Chesapeake Regional Medical Center, we are safely providing the best possible medical care.”
The sheriff’s office and the Virginia Department of Health conducted the facility-wide testing on Nov. 21. Out of 1,219 people who were tested, 859 of them were inmates and 360 of them were correctional staff and sworn court personnel.
Results showed that there were 140 additional inmates who had COVID-19, bringing the total number of inmate coronavirus cases to 232.
The correctional center houses an average of 985 inmates daily. Given the results of the testing, the infection rate was around 23 percent.
O’Sullivan said four deputies also had COVID-19.
The sheriff received clearance from the Virginia Department of Corrections back in April, to turn the auxiliary building into a separate space for infected inmates.
CSO staff has increased cleaning and sanitation efforts in all of its buildings. All employees are required to have a daily temperature and symptom check when they go into work.
They also have to let personnel know if they’ve been in contact with an infected individual, and will have to be tested for COVID-19 immediately while staying home to quarantine.
Every offender has to have a medical screening when they arrive for booking into the jail, and new inmates must undergo a 14-day quarantine before joining the rest of the inmates.
All inmates must wear a mask anytime they aren’t in their housing unit and all employees must wear them during their shifts.
In an effort to limit exposure, the Chesapeake Correctional Center is closed to the public and some inmate programs have been suspended. In-person visits are not allowed, and all visits must be made by video.
The sheriff’s office said it is working with the courts and local jurisdictions to have more arraignments and hearings done virtually.