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How local jails are handling the COVID-19 outbreak

Jail Cell
Posted at 3:30 PM, Jan 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-17 18:20:12-05

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Just as COVID-19 is running rampant through our communities, it's also making its way into our local jails.

"The biggest thing now is how quickly we respond. Speed is key fighting an invisible enemy," said Newport News Sheriff Gabe Morgan.

Morgan currently has roughly 400 inmates in his jail, and 38 are COVID-19 positive.

"We have asymptomatic carriers; they don't know they are sick, and they are infecting others," said Morgan.

They are working hard to curb the spread.

"We do rapid tests to every inmate that comes in to be booked. They are given that test, and then put in isolation," he said. "Then, three days later, they are given a PCR test; we understand rapid can give false negatives."

In the Norfolk City Jail, all visitation and programs have been suspended, and they have four positive cases out of nearly 800 inmates. The gym is closed, and hot meals have also been suspended.

In Virginia Beach, 29 inmates are positive out of a population of roughly 1,000 inmates.

In Hampton, 144 inmates reside in the jail; 13 are positive.

Nearly all the jails in the area monitor the inmates, placing them in isolation or quarantine zones. They are monitored by nursing staff and extensive cleaning is done.

Sheriff Morgan says safety is key for the inmates and the deputies who look after them, and no one will be turned away.

"I can't put a sign up that says, 'No room at the jail; no vacancy... COVID positive or not,' but I have to take them in," said Morgan.

To view COVID-19 protocols for Norfolk, click here.

For protocols in Virginia Beach, click here.

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