RICHMOND — The Virginia Department of Corrections is now manufacturing sneeze/cough guard masks for use by Virginia DOC staff and offenders. These are not medical grade masks but they will aid in the effort to keep COVID-19 out of the state’s correctional facilities.
There are still no known cases of COVID-19 among offenders and staff in Virginia’s prisons.
The Virginia DOC started production of sneeze/cough guard masks late Friday at all four Virginia Correctional Enterprise (VCE) apparel plants. On Sunday, 5200 sneeze/cough guards were delivered to Coffeewood Correctional Center and 4900 to Dillwyn Correctional Center. Eighty are being delivered to Probation and Parole officers today.
Deerfield Correctional Center will receive the next round of masks. Virginia DOC is hoping to be able to produce up to 15,000 sneeze/cough guard masks a day.
Virginia Correctional Enterprises also manufactures cleaning supplies approved by the EPA for use in combating the coronavirus. These are used by the Virginia DOC and available for procurement. Due to high demand, we have had to limit order amounts per customer.
VCE is a self-supporting division established by the general assembly more than 75 years ago to provide job training and certification opportunities to offenders in Virginia’s correctional system. Examples of VCE products and services range from ergonomic office chairs to the linens at a major Virginia teaching hospital, which are washed, cleaned and delivered by VCE. You can see examples of VCE’s work at most major universities, state parks and state buildings.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Virginia DOC facilities have moved to modified lockdown in order to minimize contact between groups of offenders from different buildings. Offenders will eat in their pods and go to recreation with their own pod of offenders and will not eat and recreate with offenders from other pods until further notice.
While visitation at correctional facilities is cancelled for now, off-site video visitation, facilitated through Assisting Families of Inmates (AFOI), remains available. JPay and VADOC worked together to credit each offender’s JPay account with two free JPay stamps per week during this time.
From March 15 to March 21, VADOC offenders sent and received 193,487 email messages, made 447,809 telephone calls, and completed 1,503 video visits. During this pandemic, offenders are receiving two free phone calls per week.
The Virginia DOC is utilizing its COVID-19 Medical Guideline along with an Offender Screening Questionnaire and Medical Evaluation Tool to evaluate and monitor offenders’ health.
The Virginia DOC’s extensive Medical Epidemic/Pandemic Sanitation Plan is in place to make certain that all Department facilities ensure accurate sanitation during this pandemic while utilizing appropriate chemicals and approved personal protective equipment.
A coronavirus screening tool is in place for employees, and all employees must assess their risk on a daily basis prior to reporting to work.
A Virginia DOC multi-disciplinary task force has been working to keep the new coronavirus from reaching the state’s correctional facilities, monitoring COVID-19 updates and guidance from the Virginia Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization.