National Guard troops will conduct COVID-19 testing at the Prince William-Manassas Adult Detention Center starting Thursday in response to an outbreak that has so affected 37 inmates and 11 staff members, according to jail officials.
So far, however, the outbreak has not resulted in any hospitalizations or deaths, Lt. Jeffrey Kepler said in an email in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Prince William Times.
The 48 positive COVID-19 cases marks an increase of 19 cases reported at the jail since Tuesday, May 19.
The jail has tested 84 inmates and staff for the virus but has only 18 test kits on-hand, Kepler said.
The jail is planning to conduct a “point-prevalence survey” with the help of the National Guard on Thursday and Friday. The process entails testing all individuals at the facility for COVID-19, whether they have symptoms or not.
The jail currently houses 545 inmates, and hundreds of staff members work at the jail every day.
Jail officials first acknowledged the COVID-19 outbreak on Friday, May 15. At that time, two staff members had tested positive for COVID-19 and two additional staff members and 11 inmates were exhibiting symptoms of the disease and were awaiting test results.
To prevent the further spread of the virus, the jail administration set up two quarantine housing units, which are pod units with individual cells, to allow inmates to quarantine individually.
One unit is used for all newly admitted inmates, and a second unit is designated for inmates who were in contact with the first inmate who tested positive for the disease. That person was released from custody a few days prior to testing positive for COVID-19, according to a May 15 county press release.
In the months leading up to the outbreak, the jail and local criminal justice stakeholders have taken extraordinary measures to try to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within the jail. Those steps have included efforts by Commonwealth’s Attorney Amy Ashworth’s office, defense attorneys and the courts to reduce the jail population by offering second bond hearings for all inmates.
The population of the jail has dropped by about 250 inmates, or about 35%, since March.
At the beginning of the pandemic, jail staff said they implemented new procedures aimed at preventing the spread of the virus, including isolating and triaging at-risk or symptomatic inmates, maintaining social distancing between staff and the general public and screening all incoming inmates for symptoms of the illness.
Reach Daniel Berti at firstname.lastname@example.org