Emily Allen Published

W.Va. Prison Officials Monitor COVID-19 Cases At Mount Olive


West Virginia prison officials have identified three prisoner COVID-19 cases at the Mount Olive Correctional Center in Fayette County as of Monday.

Three prisoners at Mount Olive and three employees tested positive for the coronavirus by Monday afternoon, according to data from the state Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation. 

“Corrections did what they’ve been doing over and over, just running to the fire,” Justice said during a regularly scheduled virtual press briefing Monday. 

According to DCR spokesman Lawrence Messina, staff tested all of the prisoners occupying the housing unit where two active cases of the coronavirus were identified.

The DCR also tested randomly selected prisoners from the other five housing units at Mount Olive. 

All tests from the Mount Olive medical unit, which the DCR tested in its entirety, came back negative on Monday. 

Whether DCR tests everyone at Mount Olive depends on the roughly 185 pending results from Mount Olive prisoners and input from the state Bureau for Public Health.

There are 1,020 prisoners total at the Mount Olive correctional center and work camp.

Less than two weeks ago, the DCR tested all prisoners and staff at the South Central Regional Jail, where roughly 60 people have tested positive for the virus since then.

By Monday afternoon, the division reported 57 prisoners had recovered from the coronavirus. The facility remains on lockdown, according to Justice.

Systemwide, there are 14 employees, including six workers in Charleston and three at the regional jail in Raleigh County, who have tested positive for the coronavirus. They are all self-quarantining from home, according to Messina. 

All 10 regional jails were over capacity Sunday afternoon, despite guidance from state court officials to local courts and a new law to reduce jail overcrowding.

No prisons were over capacity.

Emily Allen is a Report for America corps member.

This story was corrected on Tuesday, August 25, 2020, to report the accurate number of empoyees who have active cases of COVID-19 at Mount Olive. Only three employees and three prisoners by Monday had active cases of the coronavirus.