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COVID-19 outbreak at Augusta Correctional Center surging seemingly out of control

(© Fabian –

A day ago, there were 46 confirmed COVID-19 positive tests among inmates at Augusta Correctional Center in Craigsville. Today: 326.

The situation described to us by the family members of four inmates sounds harrowing: inmates testing positive being housed in the gymnasium with others who have tested positive, unable to communicate with loved ones.

“My husband is in there, and I haven’t heard from him since Thursday,” the wife of one inmate told us by email late Saturday. “Last thing he told me was that he lost his sense of taste and smell, and that if he tested positive, they would probably just throw him in the gym with the others that are infected and may be unable to use the phone. As his wife, I haven’t been contacted or anything if he is positive or quarantined, which means no one outside those walls knows the status of his well-being. That just doesn’t seem right.”

The number of staff at ACC testing positive is also up today, from 33 a day ago to 47, according to the Virginia Department of Corrections COVID-19 dashboard.

The outbreak is the result of a series of missteps related to a recent two-week lockdown of the facility, from what we’ve been able to piece together from communications with family of those on the inside.

The story that they’ve been told from those on the inside is that officers-in-training were brought in to complement ACC staff in the lockdown effort, and that at least three of those staffers brought in from the outside tested positive for COVID-19, seeding the outbreak.

Protective clothing such as gloves, masks and suits were not worn at all times by officers throughout the lockdown, and staff did not adhere to the cleaning and sanitation guidelines provided by the CDC.

According to the reporting that they’ve gathered from the inside, inmates who have tested positive “have been stuffed into the gymnasium like animals, not even basic, if any, medical care, showers or adequate essentials.”

The wife of the inmate who contacted us late Saturday made the salient point: “Someone needs to be held accountable.”

She said in her most recent conversation with her husband, “he told me that if something happens to him as a result of this virus, for me to make sure I make it known how they all got sick due to the negligence of the ACC leadership.”

Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press