Gov. Justice expands Huttonsville testing to all inmates

Covid-19 infections in prisons

CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY) – Gov. Jim Justice ordered COVID-19 testing for all other Huttonsville Correctional Center inmates on Friday, after the mass testing directed earlier this week confirmed 25 additional cases at the Randolph County facility.

Four additional staff there are also positive, following two rounds of testing for employees. The enhanced testing and ongoing contact tracing have established connections among several of the positive employees, and between that group and the initial inmate to test positive.

All positive employees are in good condition and are recovering at home. All the positive inmates are in good or fair condition in medical isolation at the facility.

Justice had previously said that all inmates would be tested if there were additional positives. Justice on Friday also directed the W.Va. National Guard, which completed testing of Huttonsville staff on Thursday, to sanitize affected housing areas, the dining hall and the positive employees’ offices. DCR Commissioner Betsy Jividen, Huttonsville Superintendent Shelby Searls and other agency leadership have been working closely with the National Guard, the W.Va. Bureau of Public Health and the Randolph County Health Department to coordinate the ongoing pandemic response.

The 25 inmates are all among the 40 in the same housing unit as the initial inmate confirmed with COVID-19 on Monday. A second inmate in that unit tested positive Wednesday. Friday’s results bring the total number of W.Va. inmates confirmed with COVID-19 statewide to 27, all at Huttonsville. All positive cases have been from that quarantined housing unit to medical isolation.

The four additional staff bring the total number of active cases among DCR employees statewide to eight, and again all are at Huttonsville. Three of those new cases resulted from the National Guard-assisted testing of the overnight and morning shifts on Wednesday. The other positive test had been conducted amid the ongoing contact tracing by local health officials.

The latest results from that tracing process show connections between three of those positive employees. One of those employees shares an office with a fourth positive employee – and that employee was in close proximity to the first inmate confirmed positive.

Also as part of the rapid response, all other inmates at Huttonsville are screened medically daily, including with temperature checks. No other inmates are exhibiting fevers or other symptoms. There are around 1,030 inmates at the facility.

The National Guard tested 203 employees on Wednesday, and an additional 39 on Thursday. The sanitizing effort will begin once all positive cases are identified and moved to medical isolation.

Tyler Barker
Tyler Barker is currently the News Director and Digital Content Manager for WOAY-TV. He was promoted to this job in Mid-November. He still will fill in on weather from time to time. You can Follow Tyler on Facebook and Twitter @wxtylerb. Have any news tips or weather questions? Email him at tbarker@woay.com