Virginia Department of Corrections suspends in-person visitation amid COVID spikes

Jail Cell
Posted at 10:22 AM, Jan 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-24 20:37:16-05

The Virginia Department of Corrections has suspended in-person visitation as prisons in the Commonwealth are currently a hotbed for COVID-19 cases.

They have seen an increase of inmate and staff COVID-19 cases, the department said.

In-person visitation has been temporarily suspended at all facilities through February 13.

"I haven’t seen my son for almost two years. I can't even do a video," said Lisa.

Lisa, whose last name we are leaving out to protect her identity, says COVID-19 has meant no visitations with her son.

"This is heartbreaking," said Lisa.

Her son has spent the last two years inside St. Brides Correctional Center in Chesapeake. She says he is being refused a COVID shot after requesting one many times.

"He is always being denied of his shot; he is asking all the time," she said.

We asked the DOC in Virginia, which gave us this response:

"Any inmates in VA DOC custody who request a vaccination or booster shot are provided with it. Currently, 74% of inmates at St.Bride's have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 70% are fully vaccinated."

Lisa tells News 3 there is also an issue with masks, per her son.

"At first, they were giving out masks made them wear the same cloth masks for a whole month," she said.

The DOC says inmates can wash their masks; they are collected and then returned to them.

"They told them if they want to wash them take them off then they get in trouble or written up to wash masks," said Lisa.

One hundred and three inmates are currently COVID-19-positive at St. Brides. There are 1,887 positive cases across all 41 prisons in the Commonwealth.

Six hundred and sixty staff members within the DOC have COVID as of Monday. There have been more than 25,000 vaccinations administered, and there have been 57 inmate deaths from COVID.

Last week, the DOC suspended all visitations due to inmate and staff COVID outbreaks until February 18.

"This really bothers me. That’s the only child I have left... I feel sorry for other people who have not had have their shot, either," she said.

To check the COVID cases in Virginia prisons, click here.

Related: COVID-19 taking a stronghold on many sheriff's offices in Hampton Roads