Two Wallens Ridge prison staff confirmed as COVID-19 cases

Mike Still • Updated May 3, 2020 at 6:42 PM

BIG STONE GAP — The Virginia Department of Corrections has confirmed two staffers at Wallens Ridge State Prison contracted COVID-19.

According to the DOC’s webpage on cases by facility (vadoc.virginia.gov/news-press-releases/2020/covid-19-updates/), the two cases were posted over the weekend, although no exact date was listed.

The webpage noted that staff could include state employees or contractors.

No cases have been reported at the other two DOC facilities in Wise County, Red Onion State Prison near Pound and Wise Correctional Unit near Coeburn.

DOC spokesperson Lisa Kinney did not respond to a message from the Times News.

The Virginia Department of Health COVID-19 tracking webpage (www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus) listed two known outbreaks of COVID-19 in congregate settings in the LENOWISCO Health District, where Wallens Ridge is located. Congregate settings, according to VDH, include correctional facilities, nursing homes, group housing settings, schools or colleges and group homes.

Prior to Sunday, and according to various VDH and LENOWISCO Health District releases, the only outbreak in the district was at the Appalachia Towers housing site in Appalachia.

The VDH tracking website listed no change in cases or deaths across the LENOWISCO district Sunday. Wise County remained at 22 confirmed cases and one death since Friday, and Lee County stayed at 10 cases and no deaths. Scott County has reported seven cases and one death since the pandemic began.

Norton has remained at two cases during the pandemic.

Statewide, Virginia reported 18,671 total cases and 660 deaths — increases of 1,770 and 79, respectively, since Friday.

The number of people tested in the LENOWISCO Health District was not available on the VDH tracking site Sunday. The number of people tested statewide since the pandemic began in March is 119,065 of 8.63 million. According to Virginia Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver last week, VDH is now reporting the total number of tests along with the number of “unique people” tested because the previous reporting included some people getting repeated tests. Based on Sunday’s “unique people” figure, 107,204 people were tested, or 1.24%.

According to the Tennessee Department of Health Sunday (www.tn.gov/health/cedep/ncov), 13,177 cases and 210 total deaths have been reported during the pandemic, for increases since Friday of 1,286 and six, respectively. The number of people tested statewide rose 18,475 since Friday to 204,607 — 3% of the state’s 6.83 million residents.

Northeast Tennessee reported two new cases since Saturday for a total of 200 since the pandemic began. The case count, by county, is: Carter, 14; Greene, 43; Hawkins, 30; Johnson, 3; Sullivan, 51; Unicoi, 2; and Washington, 57. The two new cases were reported in Sullivan County. The NET death toll from the virus remained at six, with two each in Greene and Hawkins counties and one each in Carter and Sullivan counties.

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