GREENSVILLE COUNTY, Va. -- According to the Virginia Department of Corrections (DOC), approximately 29,000 inmates have been tested for COVID-19 statewide. But CBS 6 has received dozens of emails from family members concerned by the conditions that COVID-19 patients are living in at Greensville Correctional Center.
Damisha Perry said that her cousin is COVID-19 positive and locked behind bars at the Greensville Correctional Center in Southern Virginia.
"It's a nightmare that hasn't ended yet," Perry said. "He informed us they are quarantined with other sick inmates, two to a cell, and they don't feel like they're going to thrive let alone survive."
Perry learned about her loved one's condition six days ago.
The DOC reports nearly 3,000 inmates and staff were tested last week at the prison, through what's called "Point Prevalence Testing."
The process involves testing asymptomatic offenders, which allows positive cases to be discovered and therefore treated sooner. As of Thursday, 193 inmates and 53 staff members tested positive for the virus.
Prior to testing, only two inmates had symptoms.
"We care for inmates. Inmates are still people, they are still human beings! Help them," wrote Asharma Rives in another letter recieved by CBS 6.
Other letters claim that the correctional center has refused to give wellness updates on prisoners to their family members.
"When we call Greensville they won’t give us a wellness check," Wrote LeTai Saunders. "Please help me I’ve lost both my parents and I don’t want to lose my youngest brother in prison dying from the Coronavirus."
"We just want an explanation as to how they came in contact with the virus and why aren't they receiving any medical treatment," Perry added.
The DOC said medical staff are working around the clock to test and provide care to offenders during the pandemic, and that that those who are positive are quarantined, but not housed with inmates who have tested negative.
"The inmates, they aren't going anywhere, they're only have contact with each other and the staff, so it's going to be up to them to do something to stop this pandemic inside of their correctional facility," Perry said.
The DOC said it has tested approximately 29,000 offenders state wide and said they will continue to follow CDC guidelines to ensure the safety of everyone in its facilities.