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Sheriff addresses work to control COVID-19 spread at Richmond jail

Updated: Aug. 26, 2020 at 11:36 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Five staff members at the jail have tested positive and more than six dozen inmates are quarantined because they’ve either tested positive or were exposed to someone who did.

New inmates are booked into the city jail every day and could be carrying the virus. That’s why they’re immediately separated from the rest of the jail population.

We recently had over 100 people be quarantined,” Sheriff Antoinette Irving said. But that number has dwindled to 75 people in quarantine at the Richmond jail.

“How are you physically separating people?” NBC12′s Brent Solomon asked.

“Right now, what we’re doing is moving people from one area to the next. We’re trying to make sure that we have one floor for that, but the infrastructure of the building often times make us not be able to do that. So what we do is those people that are positive, we put the positive people together so they don’t impact anyone else. Our people that are exposed, we try to keep them together to find out whether they have it and to make sure they don’t give it to anyone else if they’re asymptomatic,” Irving said.

That means keeping a close eye on inmates who have to come and go.

“For court {or} they’re going out for clinic appointments, so we have to make sure that when they come back, we can quarantine them,” Irving added.

The sheriff says they’re strictly enforcing separation, even when some may not want to.

“We have a group of guys right now that we have on quarantine and they’re telling us they don’t need to be quarantined because they’re healthy. They’re young guys but we want to make sure if they were exposed, we want to make sure they are negative, not asymptomatic and walking around with COVID,” she added.

When a hundred inmates had to be quarantined, only seven were visibly ill. The sheriff says nurses and doctors are going around every day checking on inmates.

Mass testing will take place Monday, even for those who tested positive to see if they’ve recovered.

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