A total of 10 inmates and no staff members tested positive for COVID-19 after the National Guard on Monday conducted a mass testing of inmates and staff at the Halifax County Adult Detention Center, according to Joshua Salmon, the Blue Ridge Regional Jail Authority’s incoming administrator.

A few of the inmates started exhibiting symptoms early last week, and they reached out to the health department who recommended they do the mass testing.

When an inmate starts exhibiting symptoms, Salmon said they’re placed in an individual cell for quarantine for 14 days.

If a small number of inmate test results are positive, Salmon said the jail would place the inmates testing positive in individual cells within the unit where they are currently housed.

However, if a larger number of inmate test results are positive, the jail Authority has another plan in place.

“We have plans in place to move inmates around to free up an entire housing unit full of cells that is a quarantine unit so they’re not spread out throughout the jail, and we’ll still have those inmates in individual cells,” Salmon explained.

The number of inmates at the Halifax County Detention Center as of Wednesday was 162, and the number of staff members was 52.

Salmon said the National Guard also recently conducted COVID-19 testing at two of the Authority’s other jails, in Amherst County and Bedford. The National Guard conducted the testing at the jail facilities because they were available to do so and a private testing company was already booked, and the Authority calls on the National Guard for assistance whenever they are available to help, Salmon added.

In addition to quarantining inmates who show symptoms of COVID-19 or test positive for the virus, other measures Salmon said is being used to mitigate the virus include jail employees wearing N96 masks, face shields and gowns, and everything is sanitized. He also said they provide masks for all inmates. 

“We’re basically doing what everyone is doing,” said Salmon. “We’re maintaining our distances and wearing our masks.”

The jail has a policy that any time someone is in one of their facilities, he or she must wear a face covering at all times, said Salmon. 

“We’re being as cautious as we can be,” said Salmon.