The Central Virginia Regional Jail (CVRJ) is prepared for COVID-19, the current coronavirus making its way throughout the world.
Jail superintendent Frank Dyer said the facility is prepared for the virus, which is causing panic and wreaking havoc with school and event schedules throughout the country.
Inmates coming into the facility already undergo medical checks. Health officials are paying close attention to those displaying symptoms consistent with the COVID-19 which include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Those displaying the symptoms are tested for flu, which can also cause similar symptoms. If inmates test negative, Dyer said they can be transferred to the local hospital for further testing.
Temporary housing can be setup in the jail’s gymnasium for those with symptoms, but unconfirmed COVID-19. The jail has disposable utensils and plates to serve food to those inmates to prevent anything from coming back into the kitchen area.
Women coming into the jail facility are being held in the booking area for 72 hours, after which they will be reassessed before being placed in the general population. Men are being held for five days in the space used for those serving weekend sentences. They are then being reassessed before moving into the general population. Dyer said those with a low-grade fever of 100.5 or less are cleared and moved into the population.
Those coming into the jail to serve weekend sentences also are evaluated. If they are ill, an incident report is written and the person is turned away for the weekend. The court is also notified that the person reported to jail, but was turned away.
“We haven’t stopped [people] from serving weekend sentences, but we will turn them away if they’re ill,” Dyer said.
For those inmates in the work-release program, employers have been contacted that if workers are ill, they should notify the jail. Employers have been told that inmates may not come to work if it is felt they could contract the virus there.
Volunteers, including those teaching classes and religious programs, also have been notified. Currently, Dyer said programs and visitation have not been suspended, but may be so in the future. He said it is possible that visitation could be limited to law enforcement and legal representatives.
Signs containing information regarding proper hygiene, virus symptoms and more have been placed throughout the jail facility and workers have been notified to stay home if feeling ill. Dyer said he also withdrew employees from attending a conference next week in Roanoke and has been discussing workers’ personal travel plans and whether or not they include high-risk areas. Sanitation supplies also have been distributed throughout the facility and supplies and food have been stocked to last several months. The jail kitchen routinely stores enough food to last at least 60 days.
Dyer said he’s contacted each of the local health departments and asked them to notify the jail should they have any confirmed COVID-19 cases, in which case, the jail will ramp up precautions.