By Carol Vaughn —
Accomack County Sheriff Todd Wessells said no one has been hospitalized as result of an outbreak at the Accomack County Sheriff’s Office.
The National Guard tested more than 170 Sheriff’s Office employees and inmates Jan. 5.
More staff than inmates tested positive for COVID-19, Wessells said, putting the number of officers who tested positive at around 20.
He declined to give the total number of cases linked to the outbreak.
The Virginia Department of Health gives case numbers for outbreaks in specific settings in a dashboard updated weekly on Fridays, which can be viewed at https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/covid-19-data-insights/covid-19-outbreaks-by-selected-exposure-settings/
The dashboard as of Jan. 13 did not show the Accomack County Sheriff’s Office outbreak.
Up until recently, only two inmates previously had tested positive for the virus since the pandemic’s start last spring, Wessells said.
In answer to concerns about whether inmates are being provided masks during the outbreak, Wessells said, “If somebody is COVID-positive, they are in a COVID bloc.”
Those inmates are housed exclusively with other COVID-positive inmates, meaning they do not need to wear a mask in the bloc, according to Wessells.
“If they move around in the jail, they are provided masks when they move around the jail,” he said.
New inmates are housed in a separate bloc and are tested and quarantined 14 days before they are moved into the general jail population.
At present, “no movement is going on” with inmates — court and attorney appointments are being done virtually to prevent exposures coming from outside the jail.
“We’re not moving people into the courthouse and bringing them back here,” Wessells said.
That protocol will continue for the next couple of weeks.
Most employees who tested positive for the virus before the National Guard mass testing are now back to work, according to Wessells.
“They’ve done their quarantine and every day somebody is coming back,” he said.
Staff who tested positive during the National Guard testing, some of whom are asymptomatic, are still under quarantine.
“No one from the jail, inmates or the staff, neither one, has been hospitalized for COVID,” Wessells said.
Additional sanitation and disinfection measures have been taken in the office and the jail.
Wessells gave credit to the National Guard, the health department, his staff, and Medico, the contracted medical provider for the jail, for their efforts during the outbreak.
“It’s been a big team effort,” he said, adding, “You’ve got people out sick — the operation has got to run, so people are coming in on their days off, helping out. … It’s been a team effort and I think we are doing the best we can do and providing the best medical care.”