TO: All Bureau of Corrections Staff
FROM: Wynnie Testamark, Director
Confirmed COVID-19 Cases at CJC (St. Thomas Jail)
DATE: August 11, 2020
At approximately 10:30 p.m., Sunday, August 9, 2020, the Bureau learned that a detainee at the Alexander A. Farrelly Criminal Justice Complex (“CJC”) on St. Thomas had tested positive for the novel coronavirus (a/k/a “COVID-19). This is the first confirmed case of COVID-19 infection at any Bureau facility. As a precaution, the Bureau also tested the cell mate of the COVID-19 positive detainee. That cellmate also tested positive for the coronavirus on Sunday.
Since the two CJC detainees who tested positive for the coronavirus have been in BOC custody for at least a year and since neither have left the facility nor received visitors since March when the pandemic began, it is more than likely that they contracted the virus from a member of the CJC staff. Therefore out of abundance of caution, all CJC staff are beinq required to underqo immediate, mandatory COVID-19 testinq. Testing will identify any CJC staff who may be infected with the coronavirus and allow them to safely isolate at home. These actions were taken to prevent any further spread of the coronavirus at CJC, maintain a safe workplace, promote the health and welfare of all CJC staff and their families and protect our inmates.
The Virgin Islands Department of Health (“DOH”) conducted mandatory
COVID-19 testing of inmates, detainees, and some staff yesterday at CJC. The Bureau will notify those tested of the test results, in accordance with HIPAA confidentiality requirements. CJC staff who were not tested yesterday will be contacted by DOH within the next 48 hours to schedule a mandatory COVID-19 test.
The Bureau has been working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) and DOH to determine the best way to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 at CJC. We are following their instructions. We have been guided by
CDC and DOH strategies since the pandemic began and will continue to do so now that there has we have confirmed cases.
Since there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection at the John A. Bell Adult Correctional Facility on St. Croix (“Golden Grove”), mandatory testing is NOT required for staff at Golden Grove. However, the Bureau recommends that any staff concerned about their COVID-19 status be tested voluntarily by their health care provider. The Frederiksted Health Care Clinic has offered to test the Bureau’s St. Croix staff without charge. If you wish to be tested by the Frederiksted Clinic, please contact Chief Errol Browne.
I want to remind everyone — particularly on St. Croix where there has been no confirmed case — of the COVID-19 precautions that the Bureau has put in place. Face coverings must be worn at all times; cleaning and disinfection must be intensified and logged, and staff must wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times. Staff must also remember that what they do off-duty can affect the safety and security of the co-workers and inmates at our facilities. I urge you to be prudent and conscientious even on your days off.
The Bureau has been proactive in following CDC and DOH guidelines to prevent the introduction of COVID-19 into our facilities. Those efforts kept our facilities COVID-19 free for five months. But with increased community spread in the Virgin Islands comes increased risk that an asymptomatic carrier could bring the coronavirus into our facility, despite our best efforts. This makes screening for COVID-19 extremely difficult.
We have prepared for the eventuality of a confirmed COVID-19 case at one of our facilities; we have stockpiled sufficient amounts of PPE to manage an infection, and we are relying on the advice of the experts to help manage the infection at CJC. The Bureau is is in collaboration with the CDC, the Department of Health, V.I.P.D., the courts, and the criminal justice community to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus at CJC.
cc: All Unions Representing BOC Bargaining Unit Members