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National Guard to help test at prison

CHARLESTON — The West Virginia National Guard will help administer COVID-19 testing at Huttonsville Correctional Center, officials said Tuesday afternoon.

“The state Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation has enlisted the W.Va. National Guard and the Bureau for Public Health to increase COVID-19 testing at the Huttonsville Correctional Center, where an inmate was confirmed positive overnight,” a Tuesday press release from DCR states.

“The 62-year-old male is in good condition in medical isolation. His is the first confirmed case among inmates at DCR facilities. West Virginia confirmed its first COVID-19 case statewide on March 17.

“The positive inmate had exhibited symptoms, triggering testing under DCR’s response plan for COVID-19. Huttonsville will now expand this testing, starting with the inmate’s now-quarantined housing unit,” the press release reads. “The Bureau for Public Health and DCR’s medical provider, Wexford Health Sources, will provide the necessary equipment and personnel. The National Guard will assist making testing available to all officers and staff.

“The stepped-up testing is slated to begin (today).

“The case is believed unrelated to that of a temporary, part-time employee at the facility who tested positive over the weekend.

“That employee, who is quarantined at home and in good condition, had supervised three other inmates from a separate housing unit during his last shift there May 14 in the recreation yard. Those three inmates have since tested negative.

“Huttonsville and all other DCR facilities have followed the agency’s response plan throughout the pandemic,” the release states.

“Embracing key CDC recommendations, and affirmed by a judicial review, the policy’s preventative and precautionary measures include restricted movement within facilities to avoid contact between housing units; curtailed inter-facility movement and transports; sanitization of eating and gathering areas after each use; more frequent cleaning of high-touch areas; and isolation and quarantine protocols both for new arrivals and for inmates who exhibit symptoms.

“Huttonsville and all other DCR facilities each also have quantities of personal protective equipment, including enough cloth protective face coverings for every inmate and staff member. All staff are required to wear masks, and that has been extended to Huttonsville’s inmates as well.”

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