A federal inmate has tested positive for the coronavirus after being transferred to a facility in West Virginia. The transfer of federal prisoners during the COVID-19 pandemic has been increasingly criticized as those facilities have seen outbreaks across the country.
The U.S. Bureau of Prisons has confirmed that 124 new inmates were transferred on April 28 to the Federal Correctional Institution in Gilmer County.
A spokeswoman for the agency says new inmates are screened and their temperatures are checked several times before their arrival at a federal prison, where they are quarantined for the first 14 days. The spokesperson says that none of the 124 inmates arriving on April 28 were symptomatic upon their entry to FCI Gilmer.
During routine checks on May 1, one of the transferred inmates was found to have a fever and showed other common symptoms of COVID-19, including a cough, body aches and loss of appetite. That inmate was sent to a local hospital, where he tested positive for the disease before being returned to isolation at FCI Gilmer.
The Bureau of Prisons has declined to comment on any planned transfers, but has confirmed that the facilities in Gilmer and Preston counties are among seven designated quarantine locations for new inmates entering the federal prison system.
Over the weekend, members of the union representing guards at the federal prison in Preston County protested the planned transfer of inmates to that facility.
Officials in West Virginia have asked the Bureau of Prisons to reconsider the inmate transfers.