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Huttonsville inmate cases rise to 111

HUTTONSVILLE — The number of positive COVID-19 cases continues to rise at Huttonsville Correctional Center, as officials work to isolate inmates and testing begins at other prison facilities throughout the state.

The outbreak in the Huttonsville facility is the largest in the state currently, with 111 inmates having tested positive.

During a coronavirus briefing Thursday afternoon, Gov. Jim Justice said now that testing capabilities are improving, state officials will begin working to test all prison and jail facilities throughout the state.

“Everyone needs to understand testing has been a problem from the standpoint of can we … in the beginning to have a test kit was a big deal –we only had like 100 — we were just absolutely trying to test the sickest,” Justice said. “We had to somewhat prioritize from the standpoint of not who was the most important, but who had the biggest issues going on at the time.”

He said that nursing homes were the first priority, but there was testing going on at correctional facilities, although it was limited.

“We kept testing those in our jail facilities that had any symptoms whatsoever and we were pitching a perfect game. We didn’t have any positives … we were continuing to monitor and pass out our testing as we thought it was best to test here and there because we didn’t have enough to go around,” Justice said.

Justice said once the outbreak at HCC began and testing capabilities improved, he ordered testing of all staff and inmates at HCC on May 22 and testing was completed on Monday.

According to information from the W.Va. Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation, at HCC there have been 1,086 inmates tested, with 111 tests returning positive, 542 returning negative, and 433 test results are pending. As of Thursday 950 inmates were in quarantine at HCC.

A total of eight staff members at the facility have tested positive, according to state officials.

West Virginia Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeff Sandy also spoke about testing at correctional facilities during Thursday’s briefing.

“We have been working with the DHHR, our health care providers, local health departments and the West Virginia National Guard to accomplish that,” he said. “As of today, the total prisoners, employees and contractors that work in the facilities is 13,966. We are preparing to to the testing.”

Sandy explained what happens when an inmate is first brought into any of the correctional facilities in the state. He said the individual is first processed and must fill out a medical questionnaire. Once that is completed, the inmate is then placed in a full body scanner to check for foreign objects.

Sandy said every inmate that comes in is placed in an individual location and observed for 14 days by medical providers. He said if an inmate is found to have a fever they are transported to a hospital. After the 14 days in isolation, the inmate is moved into the general population. He said the general population has temperature checks daily and every inmate is given masks to wear. He said staff are given two masks when they enter the facility.

As of 5 p.m. Thursday, Randolph County had a total of 123 confirmed cases, according to the state DHHR.

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