The Halifax County Adult Detention Center on Monday conducted a mass testing of inmates for COVID-19, according to jail site administrator Capt. David L. Moore Jr.
As of Tuesday, the Virginia Department of Corrections COVID-19/ Coronavirus Updates website listed two active cases of COVID-19 in staff members at the Halifax Correctional Unit. No positive cases were listed for inmates at the jail site.
Moore called Monday’s mass testing of inmates for COVID-19 a “precaution.”
“We’re doing everything we possibly can to cease anything (the virus) from being in the building,” Moore said.
The Virginia Department of Health on Tuesday reported a new outbreak in a correctional facility in the Southside Health District, an area that includes Halifax, Mecklenburg and Brunswick counties. The data only specifies outbreaks at district levels.
In addition, 18 new cases associated with outbreaks were added in Tuesday morning’s update by the state health department.
Halifax County set another daily record for new COVID-19 cases Tuesday morning with 64 new cases reported. The previous record was 41 on Nov. 14 during an outbreak at a South Boston long-term care facility.
The Halifax County Adult Detention Center, located at 1010 Blue Ridge Lane in Halifax, is part of the Blue Ridge Regional Jail Authority. The Authority also operates jail facilities in Lynchburg, Amherst County, Bedford County and Campbell County. The Halifax County jail has a rated capacity of 107 inmates and employs 42 staff members, according to the Blue Ridge Regional Jail Authority website.
The Lynchburg News & Advance reported in a Dec. 30 story “Wave of COVID-19 cases hit Lynchburg area jails” that inmates in the Halifax County, Lynchburg, Bedford County and Amherst County jails had started exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 the prior week.
The article also states that mass testing had taken place in the Lynchburg Adult Detention Center on Dec. 23, and mass testing was scheduled for Monday (Jan. 4) at the Halifax County Adult Detention Center.
The current number of inmates at the Halifax County jail is unknown. However, Tim Trent, former Blue Ridge Regional Jail Authority administrator, told the Gazette-Virginian in an April 24, 2020 interview that the population of inmates had decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Attempts to reach incoming Blue Ridge Regional Jail Authority administrator Joshua Salmon for comment were unsuccessful as of press time Tuesday.
According to the Virginia Department of Corrections COVID-19/Coronavirus Updates website, efforts to prevent/reduce the spread of COVID-19 in its jail facilities include requiring all staff members to wear sneeze/ cough guard masks provided by Virginia Correctional Enterprises or another form of Personal Protection Equipment face mask, and requiring all inmates to wear their VCE-issued masks at all times unless instructed by a staff member to remove their mask.
In addition, any person entering a Virginia Department of Corrections facility is screened using an infrared/ temporal artery (forehead) thermometer prior to entry. Staff members are asked to assess their risk of COVID-19 on a “daily basis” prior to reporting to work.