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Henrico Jail COVID-19 Outbreak Under Control, Sheriff Says

Gloved hands handling lab specimens
A technician works at the state laboratory. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)

The Henrico County Sheriff says a July COVID-19 outbreak at the Henrico jail is under control. 

Nearly 200 positive cases were recorded at the facility through the month of July. Sheriff Alisa Gregory told VPM those inmates and staff who tested positive were quarantined and monitored for symptoms and are now in recovery. She said on Wednesday, the jail had seven new positive cases that were detected when the offenders were recently booked into the jail.

Gregory credits aggressive testing for getting the outbreak under control as well as increased diversion efforts to keep offenders out of jail in the first place.

“There’s no way that we could separate, quarantine or manage the virus, in a population without having our population lower,” Gregory said. 

Gregory says she began testing inmates and staff daily, starting July 5, when the outbreak first surfaced. The jail contracted with a private vendor in conjunction with the health department to do the testing. 

“We would have never been able to do that with our medical staff that we have on hand,” Gregory said. 

Gregory said results from the state lab took 2-5 days, while the private vendor, BetterMed, took around two days. The county spent approximately $353,000 on testing in the month of July. Gregory said the jail will continue to test new commitals and likely begin randomly testing 20% of the population. The health department’s investigation into how the virus initially spread inside the jail is still underway. 

Gregory said she was shocked to see during the outbreak that the vast majority of people in the facility who tested positive didn’t show symptoms.  

“You can’t look at someone and know whether they’re positive or not. And that’s the scary part,” she said.


Whittney Evans is VPM News’ features editor.
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