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Official: No Virginia inmates have tested positive for COVID-19

Amid questions about a COVID-19 outbreak in the state’s jails and correctional facilities, government officials are laying those reports to rest.

RICHMOND, Va. — Public Safety Secretary Brian Moran is making it clear: there is no coronavirus outbreak among inmates.

“The short answer to that is no. As of this moment, there are no positive test in our correctional facilities,” he said.

He was asked if any jail or prison inmates have tested positive for COVID-19, during governor’s latest update on coronavirus in Virginia on Sunday.

Moran said he does not have data for local jails but when it comes to the Department of Corrections, no prison inmates have even been tested.

“Some have been presented for testing but frankly haven’t met the guidelines instituted and followed by the department of health,” he said.

When it comes to whether any inmates will be released amid the coronavirus outbreak, Moran noted the governor already gave guidance to local jails to seek alternatives to incarceration for low-level offenders who do not present a danger to the community. 

Those guidelines include using electronic monitoring ankle bracelets.

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“With respect to low level offenders, we were hearing from our local sheriff community that they would like to make space in their jail so that in the event that someone would contract the virus, they would like the opportunity to isolate that inmate," he said. 

"We would not want that inmate infected to have access to the general population for instance.”

He said the Department of Corrections is taking steps to encourage social distancing and limit interactions between inmates, employees, and the general public – including suspending visitations and giving inmates free telephone calls.

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