West Virginia lawmakers press the Bureau of Prisons for more COVID-19 testing


WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Some West Virginia lawmakers are concerned about the spread of the coronavirus inside the state’s federal prisons.

“I think any place that has a volume of people that are in close quarters, we need to get the testing to them,” West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito said.

Capito wants the Federal Bureau of Prisons to provide more testing machines for the Gilmer and Hazelton correctional facilities after five inmates tested positive following a recent transfer.

“A bigger, broader testing regime might have prevented this situation from happening,” Capito said.

West Virginia Rep. David McKinley says increased testing will provide vital information.

“If we have an inmate come in that tests positive, then we can go back and find out who else that inmate might have interacted with and keep an eye on those individuals,” McKinley said.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons is stopping transfers and visitation at both sites. Capito says top priority is keeping the staff safe.

“By providing [staff] with the testing, but also with the safe working conditions,” Capito said.

McKinley wants quick action, to avoid the problems experienced at other federal correctional facilities.

“They’ve got over a hundred cases in one institution. Over a hundred in one. We don’t want to have that outbreak,” McKinley said.

Capito and McKinley hope the testing machines will be provided soon to help contain the virus going into the summer.

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