Shenandoah Valley correctional facilities continue to deal with COVID-19 outbreaks

Shenandoah Valley correctional facilities continue to deal with COVID-19 outbreaks
Generic prison bars graphic. (Source: Gray News, file)

AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - As positive COVID-19 cases rise in the Shenandoah Valley, there is also a rise within local correctional facilities. Multiple jails and prisons are dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks that have left hundreds of inmates infected and exposed to the virus.

Middle River Regional Jail

“Nothing, none of us can do anything about it. They are in the DOC’s hands. They are in the CO’s hands, mostly. It’s scary. It’s very scary,” said Nora Ramos-Martinez, a concerned family member.

The Middle River Regional Jail reports that 60 additional inmates since their December 21 testing, have tested positive. As of Wednesday’s release, 464 inmates of the 796 housed at the facility have tested positive for the virus. 71 staff members have tested positive for the virus since November 25.

Ramos said her son has asthma and recently tested positive for the virus.

“I’m not asking for special treatment from nobody. It is just simple human rights. If he gets sick and nobody is there to see to it, what’s going to happen?” she asked.

Middle River officials said in a press release last week that there are more than 300 inmates that should be with the Virginia Department of Corrections.

“The VADOC stopped transferring offenders from local and regional jails in March 2020. The VADOC did not restarted transferring offenders to VADOC until September 2020,” the release read. “MRRJA has only transferred 16 male and 5 female offenders to VADOC since September 2020.”

Augusta Correctional Center

Augusta Correctional Center is also dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak. As of Thursday morning, 371 inmates are onsite with virus and 69 staff members have tested positive.

“It is not just about my son, this is about other humans. These are human beings, we have to do a good job,” said one concerned family member who wished to remain anonymous.

The Virginia Department of Corrections answered the following questions via email:

How exactly are symptoms being monitored and reported from the inmates?

Medical personnel make sick call visits daily (sometimes twice a day) in the housing units, conducting symptom checks and taking vital signs.

Are inmates receiving the same amount of food in their meals as they have before the outbreak?

Augusta Correctional Center is operating on the Emergency Feeding Plan which is implemented when there is a reduction in Food Service staff that hinders the kitchen from operating normally. The menu still meets all American Dietetic Association requirements and is certified by a dietician. The menu has the required calories and meets inmates’ nutritional needs.

What kind of medical care are the inmates receiving?

Medical personnel are providing both ambulatory and emergency services as needed.

A representative for the VADOC said that more information regarding access to medical care is covered in VADOC Operating Procedure 720.1 Access to Health Service.

Cold Springs CCAP and Unit #10

The VADOC reports as of the morning of December 23rd that Cold Springs CCAP has seven inmates and three staff members who tested positive for the virus. Cold Springs Correctional Unit #10 reported 54 inmates and nine staff members who tested positive for the virus and one inmate who tested positive and needed to be hospitalized.

The VADOC said via email, “According to the November population summary, the average daily population (ADP) at Cold Springs Correctional Unit is 80 ; the ADP for Cold Springs CCAP is 48.”

COVID cases within all VADOC facilities are updated daily at 5:00 p.m.

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