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Inmates at Deerfield Correctional Facility 'fighting to stay alive' in mass COVID-19 outbreak

Deerfield Correctional
Posted at 11:55 PM, Sep 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-17 23:58:03-04

SOUTHAMPTON COUNTY, Va. -- Lori Richardson is feeling helpless. Her father is behind bars at Deerfield Correctional Center, a prison with one of the largest COVID-19 outbreaks in the state.

“He’s been in prison a total of 17 years. He’s been at Deerfield I think over 10," Richardson said.

"He said 'something’s not right,' and I said 'what’s wrong?' He said 'people are getting sick in here,'" Richardson said.

The Virginia Department of Corrections reports 537 positive cases at the facility and 8 deaths, as of Thursday evening. The facility has the most COVID-19 related deaths in any Virginia DOC facility.

“He calls me he says, they’re dropping like flies. He had had an instant where he passed out twice in the night," Richardson said. "He said I don’t know if I’m going to make it.”

Richardson said her 64-year-old father has underlying health issues.

“I’m very worried about him. I’ve never seen him this sick in my whole entire life," Richardson said. “According to him yesterday, he’s barely hanging on. He’s fighting to stay alive.”

The DOC reports that Deerfield houses about 925 inmates.

Most of them are elderly with health conditions and COVID-19 testing is still underway, but Richardson still has questions.

“How did this outbreak happen when they had masks and is it going to happen again?" Richardson asked.

She hopes something is done soon before any more families lose loved ones.

“I just hope and pray I keep getting that phone call every night. That’s my only way of knowing if he’s alive or dead," Richardson said.

The DOC said that all of their Virginia facilities are following a pandemic sanitation plan and inmates and staff always have PPE.

CBS 6 reached out to the DOC Thursday afternoon for an update on conditions but have not heard back.