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West Virginia politicians issue statement about positive COVID-19 test at a federal prison

West Virginia

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CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — West Virginia politicians are asking the federal government to better equip two state prisons currently in use as quarantine sites for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

Politicians spoke out Monday and Tuesday to help secure point-of-care testing machines for Gilmer and Hazleton, located respectively in Gilmer and Preston counties. The machines can be operated in the field and provide results in as little as five minutes.

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, D-WV, released the following statement Monday after the first positive COVID-19 case at Gilmer. The positive result came after the transfer of new out-of-state prisoners to the facility.

“When the Bureau of Prisons announced their plans to send additional inmates to facilities in Glenville and Hazelton this was what we feared would happen. This reckless decision on the part of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons has endangered our hardworking correctional officers and their families, the entire community, and the other inmates in the facility. I have asked the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to conduct a thorough investigation and am awaiting the results of that investigation. I hope this will deter the U.S. Bureau of Prisons from transferring additional out-of-state inmates to West Virginia.”

Senator Joe Manchin, D-WV

West Virginia Republicans also spoke out. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey joined U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito and Congressman David B. McKinley issued a statement asking for similar measures after the positive test results at Gilmer.

“If these machines are good enough for the Senate, then they are good enough for our heroes on the actual front lines of this crisis—including our correctional guards, nurses, and staff. Our correctional officers and staff already face dangers every day in the line of duty; dangers that they know, understand, and can respond to,” they continued. “But exposing them to an infectious agent like COVID-19 without warning forces them to fly blind. They deserve better.

And because COVID-19 is so virulently contagious, depriving officers and staff of this information doesn’t just threaten them, but threatens everyone in Gilmer County and communities like it. The federal government should do everything in its power to deliver on its promises to the West Virginians who keep us safe, and make sure that all inmates transferred into the facilities we maintain are appropriately screened for COVID-19.”

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey , U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, and Congressman David B. McKinley

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