Coronavirus anxiety soars for families of Virginia inmates

Posted at 12:58 PM, Apr 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-04 13:00:13-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Anxiety among family members of inmates in Virginia prisons skyrocketed this week after the state Department of Corrections announced the first confirmed coronavirus cases.

Prison officials said four inmates, four staff members and a nurse tested positive. Families and inmate advocates fear this could be just the beginning of a massive outbreak in prisons around the state.

They’re particularly worried about women’s prisons, two that already have confirmed cases and another that houses inmates with serious health issues but has a history of providing inadequate medical care.

“My anxiety level, if I had to put it on a scale from 1 to 10, it’s a 15,” said Someko Brown, whose mother, a 59-year-old diabetic with high blood pressure, is serving an 11-year sentence for embezzlement at the Virginia Correctional Center for Women in Goochland, which has three inmate cases.

Virginia’s top public safety official has said law enforcement is doing all it can to respond to the pandemic.