Central Virginia Regional Jail in Orange, which houses Louisa County residents serving time after a conviction or awaiting trial, has reported its first COVID-19 outbreak.
Twelve people have tested positive so far, Superintendent Frank Dyer said in a prepared statement this week. Nine of the cases are from a single cell block designated for 14-day quarantine. Inmates with positive tests have been confined to a section of the jail separate from the general population.
“At this time, this is the only housing area affected by COVID-19,” Dyer said.
Aside from long-term care facilities such as nursing homes, jails and prisons have been where many outbreaks have occurred in Virginia over the past six months. Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women recently reported more than 50 positive cases.
The jail in Orange put a halt to its work release program and alcohol and substance abuse classes in late August; the suspension is expected to continue into 2021. Visitation had been suspended earlier in the year.
Jail staff implemented procedures in March to attempt to keep the virus from spreading among the inmate population, Dyer said. New inmates are screened and have to fill out a questionnaire to determine their risk for infection. If they are determined to be at risk, they are tested for the virus before being admitted.
The first two positive cases at the jail were reported on Aug. 24. One of the individuals was subsequently released from custody. The other went on to spend 14 days apart from the general population and had two negative test results.
As a result of the two positive tests, the jail tested another 31 inmates who had been exposed. They all tested negative and completed a 14-day quarantine.
A third inmate tested positive on Sept. 11. Twenty-two more people were tested, with nine turning out positive and 12 negative. The nine who tested positive were scheduled to be re-tested on Sept. 14.
One jail staff member has tested positive to date, according to Dyer’s statement. That person contracted the virus outside the facility.
Besides Louisa County, the jail houses inmates from Fluvanna, Orange, Greene and Madison counties. The average daily population was 425 in March, but dropped to 360 in July, according to data compiled by Neal Goodloe, Thomas Jefferson Community Criminal Justice Board planner.