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richmond times-dispatch file

Inmates return to their dormitories after lunch at Deerfield Correctional Center in Southampton. The center has equipped itself to house and care for a large number of geriatric inmates.

RICHMOND — Ten percent of more than 11,000 inmates held by the Virginia Department of Corrections thus far tested for COVID-19 have tested positive, said officials.

One third of Virginia’s roughly 30,000 inmates have now been tested and with several more facilities to undergo “point prevalence” testing this week the number of inmates testing positive is expected to climb again.

As of Tuesday, 1,149 inmates have tested positive, six inmates have died and 13 were hospitalized. In addition, 149 staff members and contractors have tested positive, according to the department of corrections.

“The reason we know there positive cases is because we are testing! We have prioritized our correctional facilities for testing,” wrote the state’s Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran in an email Wednesday.

Moran added that the roughly 10% positive rate, “Is exactly what is recommended by experts for reopening. Three more facilities are scheduled this week.”

“I’d like to see if any other states are aggressively testing like we are doing. We tested at Greenville this week and found majority of positives were asymptomatic-we can now take safety measures including quarantining,” he added.

It is unclear how many, if any, other states are conducting point prevalence testing.

According to the UCLA Law Covid-19 Behind Bars Data Project, nationally there have been 36,504 confirmed COVID-19 cases among prison inmates with 459 deaths and nearly 10,000 confirmed cases among staff, with 42 staff deaths.

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