RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia prison officials say more than 10% of the state’s 27,000 inmates have now tested positive for COVID-19.
There were just over 405 active cases detected at the Deerfield Correctional Center, according to officials with the Virginia Department of Corrections (DOC).
Those officials said two Deerfield inmates died Saturday.
"Both offenders who died today were in the hospital at the time of their deaths," Lisa Kinney, a department spokeswoman, said.
Twenty-two inmates from Deerfield, which houses many of the state’s older and ailing male inmates, are currently hospitalized and four inmates have died since the pandemic began.
Kinney, a department spokeswoman, said that one case of the virus prompted testing of the entire facility.
"The Virginia DOC has been able to test on a scale that most congregate settings, from prisons to nursing homes, have been unable to do," Kinney said. "While the nationwide struggle to adequately test for the coronavirus continues, the Virginia DOC has performed more than 36,600 COVID-19 tests on offenders."
DOC officials said most inmates show little or no symptoms, but a total of 17 inmates in Virginia have died.
Officials said the agency is conducting point prevalence testing at prisons to "catch cases before there are any symptoms" as well more quickly treat positive cases and keep asymptomatic staff and offenders from spreading the virus.
"That early testing of asymptomatic offenders is helping to keep the virus from spreading throughout the prison system," DOC officials said.
Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.
COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.
Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Avoid non-essential travel.