Federal prisoners to be tested for virus before transfers

KINGWOOD, W.Va. (AP) — Preston County officials have been reassured that inmates transferred into a federal prison there will be tested for the new coronavirus first, The Dominion Post reported.

The reassurances came after a fourth prisoner brought in as many weeks to the United States Penitentiary Hazelton tested positive for COVID-19.

Richard Heldreth is president of Local 420 of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents workers at Hazelton. He said bringing in inmates with COVID-19 could spread the virus throughout the community.

Preston County Health Department Director V.J. Davis and others spoke with officials from the U.S. Bureau of Prisons and U.S. Marshals Service on Friday and were told that testing before transfers will begin this coming week.

“They told us that their new procedure is going to be that all inmates, before they are transferred somewhere, will be tested for COVID. And if they test positive, they will not leave the facility they are at,” Davis said.

“They basically gave us the answer we were wanting,” he said. “Now it’s the process to see if they follow up on what they said.”

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Kassie Simmons
Kassie Simmons joined the team in January 2019 as a weekend journalist. She graduated from Virginia Tech in just two and a half years with a BA in multimedia journalism. During her short time at Virginia Tech, she served as the editor for the university’s chapter of The Tab. Kassie was named the top reporter for The Tab at Virginia Tech on multiple occasions and made the list for the top 30 reporters for The Tab in the U.S. She also studied theater performance and minored in creative writing. Before coming to WOAY, Kassie interned at WSLS in Roanoke and the Tidewater Review in her hometown of West Point, Va. She has loved following breaking news since her childhood and has a passion for delivering the stories people care most about. Kassie is excited to be working in Southern West Virginia and looks forward to all the adventures ahead of her. You can follow her on Twitter at @KassieLSimmons and like her page on Facebook. If you have a story you think she should check out, send her an email at ksimmons@woay.com.