Thirty-one Virginia prison inmates with COVID-19 have died since the start of the pandemic, more than half of them at a Southside prison for older offenders.
As of Monday, the toll was highest at the Deerfield Correctional Center — home to many geriatric prisoners and prisoners with chronic health problems — where 17 have died, according to figures from the Virginia Department of Corrections.
The death count continues to rise there despite “major steps to manage the COVID-19 outbreak at Deerfield Correctional Center and reduce the spread among a highly vulnerable population of offenders” announced by the department last week after 10 had died.
The 265 active cases at Deerfield account for more than half the 474 known active cases in all the state prisons and 16 of the 18 cases now requiring treatment in outside hospitals. The 925-inmate prison has an assisted living unit and infirmary and is located east of Emporia in Southampton County.
The only other major current outbreak in the state prisons is at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women, with 115 cases. Fluvanna is the state’s largest prison for women and houses the most seriously ill female inmates.
Inmates at Deerfield and their families complain about crowded dormitory living conditions, a shortage of staff [30 staff now have COVID-19], a lack of proper cleaning supplies and other issues.
The Virginia Department of Corrections responds that it is following all the Centers for Disease Control and Virginia Department of Health guidelines for nursing homes in addition to correctional facilities.