St. Brides reports COVID-19 cases down, inmate’s loved one angry with reversal of housing protocol

Coronavirus

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Three weeks ago, 10 On Your Side showed you how the COVID-19 numbers at St. Brides Correctional Center in Chesapeake shot up from zero in just one week to 260.

Now, it appears they’ve done just the opposite — decreasing the number of active cases drastically — after they were on the rise for several days.

Meanwhile, the family member of an inmate says the healthy inmates are now the ones housed in the same large area — without proper beds and little chance to contact family — where infected inmates were initially quartered.

A Department of Corrections spokesperson confirmed the reversal Tuesday morning in an email.

According to the message, “offenders who were COVID positive were transitioned back into the housing units and the lesser number of COVID negative offenders were moved to the gymnasium. Staff thoroughly sanitized the gymnasium following the medical epidemic/pandemic sanitation plan.”

The DOC email also stated there is a video visitation kiosk in the gymnasium.

“I just feel that they’re being further punished,” Michele Sykes said Monday afternoon, discussing her loved one who has a January 2021 release date at the medium-security lockup in Chesapeake.

“He told me that him and all the other detainees that did not have COVID-19 have been moved to the gym,” Sykes said.

A few weeks ago, it was the inmates who tested positive who were housed in the gym. Now, according to Sykes, it’s the opposite.

“(He said) they were virtually sleeping on the floor, and he had just two minutes to talk to me and that he couldn’t email me,” she said.

St, Brides is reporting 43 active COVID-19 cases currently, although the inmate told Sykes he believes the number is greater than that. The database shows more than 300 inmates in a group that includes those who have recovered. It also shows no deaths, three inmates currently in the hospital, and eight active COVID-19 cases among employees and contractors. The data is updated daily.

Sykes says she and their grandchildren are especially worried about her loved one, because he’s an easy target for COVID-19.

“He has severe COPD, lung problems and asthma. He had two attacks before COVID-19 even came that were serious, and they sent him to the infirmary,” Sykes said.

A prison spokesman told 10 On Your Side three weeks ago that staff and inmates wear proper personal protective equipment, the facility has adequate supplies of PPE and cleaning items, and inmates with symptoms are promptly evaluated.

Stay with WAVY.com for updates.


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