Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office announces additional COVID-19 testing and precautions

As a result of recent positive cases of COVID-19 among deputies and inmates, the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office is conducting testing of all staff and inmates and implementing additional precautions to protect against the spread of the coronavirus.

Since Oct. 16, four deputies – two assigned to Correctional Operations and two assigned to Court Security – and two inmates have tested positive for COVID-19. All four deputies have been cleared by a physician to return to work and there are currently no active cases of COVID-19 among VBSO staff. The two inmates who tested positive remain active cases and are quarantined in individual cells in the jail.

While this is still a low infection rate – less than 1% of the VBSO’s 414 deputies and less than 1% of the Correctional Centers 1,102 inmates – the Sheriff’s Office is taking additional steps to contain the coronavirus and protect the health and safety of the inmates, deputies, civilian staff and public. Those steps include:

  • Mass testing of all inmates, deputies and civilians, as well as some contractors. Testing began this morning and is expected to be completed by the end of the week. It is being conducted by the VBSO Medical staff and Virginia Department of Health.

  • Closing the Correctional Center to all non-employees, including volunteers. Sworn and civilian staff and contractors are still working, as usual, to ensure the safety and security of the facility and provide for the feeding and medical care of the inmate population.

  • Ceasing transfers of inmates to and from the Virginia Beach Courthouse and other jurisdictions. Staff will facilitate inmate court appearances by video whenever possible.

  • Canceling the Weekender Program and postponing delayed confinement reporting until at least Nov. 30. Anyone scheduled to report before that date will be issued a new reporting date and will not be booked into the Correctional Center until after Nov. 30.

The Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office is also continuing its COVID-19 response efforts, which began on March 6. That response has included reducing the inmate population by 240 inmates (18% of the inmate population), implementing a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all new admissions to the jail, restricting inmate movement between housing units within the Correctional Center, and requiring daily health screenings and masks for all staff. The VBSO is following its Infectious Disease Operations Plan and the recommendations of its Medical staff, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the VDH.

Any inmate who tests positive for COVID-19 will be given an opportunity to call and notify his or her family and may sign a release form authorizing the Correctional Center’s Medical staff to discuss their medical information with designated friends and family.

The Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office’s full COVID-19 testing data is available on its website at vbso.net/coronavirus. That data has been posted publicly and updated at least weekly since mid-April.

“We take this pandemic seriously and are doing everything we can to protect the health and safety of our staff, the inmates and the public. As COVID-19 continues to spread, we are doubling down on the safety efforts that we implemented nearly eight months ago,” said Sheriff Ken Stolle. “While we have only had a handful of positive cases of COVID-19, we understand this is a highly contagious illness, especially in a confined setting, so we are taking swift action to combat its spread within the jail and all areas of our operation.”

Any questions or requests for additional information from the news media may be directed to: Kathy Hieatt, Public Information Officer: khieatt@vbso.net or 757.385.8446.