Riverside Regional jail is dealing with its first case of the coronavirus, an inmate who tested positive before being transported to the facility and was immediately quarantined from the 1,300 other inmates upon his arrival, jail officials said.
The unnamed inmate, who entered the facility May 4 wearing a mask and gloves, now appears to be “progressing well” with no symptoms after being administered two COVID-19 tests in three days that showed negative results for the virus, a jail spokesperson said in a detailed synopsis of the case in response to an inquiry from the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Jail officials said they received prior notification that an arrestee was being transported to Riverside Regional Jail, and staff received records from John Randolph Medical Center that confirmed the inmate had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Upon his arrival at the jail, he was already wearing protective equipment and his vital signs were taken. The inmate had a temperature of 99.0 degrees, officials said.
He was then escorted to Riverside’s medical housing unit and placed into a “negative pressure cell,” an isolation technique used in hospitals and medical centers to prevent cross-contamination from room to room.
The inmate changed clothing and all of his garments were washed in a “wash-away” bag; his shoes were placed in a brown paper bag and labeled.
Officials said all areas that the inmate entered were then cleaned with bleach-based solutions, and staff in the housing area was advised of the inmate’s positive case.
Four days after he arrived, on May 8, the infected inmate was tested again, and the results returned on May 11 showed he was negative for the virus. A second test was administered that same day, and the results returned on May 13 again showed him to be negative.
“As of May 13, the inmate has no symptoms of COVID-19 and appears to be progressing well,” according to the written synopsis provided by the jail.
Riverside’s medical professional, a physician with Wellpath, the facility’s contracted medical provider, is coordinating with a regional medical director about what steps should now be taken with the inmate, officials said. A plan is also being developed for his transition back into the community upon his release.
To reduce exposure to others, the inmate who tested positive received his meals in a Styrofoam container, which was placed in a red biohazard bag after he finished eating and disposed of according to medical biohazard guidelines. After the inmate showers, the shower area is thoroughly disinfected with a bleach solution, officials said.
Before an inmate infected with the virus is transported within the jail, all other inmates are locked down or moved out of the area, officials said.
Riverside, located in Prince George County, is one of the largest jails in central Virginia and serves Petersburg, Hopewell, Colonial Heights and the counties of Chesterfield, Charles City, Surry and Prince George.