25 kids test positive for coronavirus at Virginia juvenile detention center
The coronavirus has hit hard at a juvenile detention center in Virginia.(Shutterstock)
A juvenile detention center in Virginia has become a new coronavirus hotspot, after 25 kids tested positive for COVID-19.
The outbreak happened at the Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center in Richmond, officials confirmed Friday.
The state’s Department of Juvenile Justice said the infected kids have been isolated in a separate part of the facility, and they have a health care team — which includes the department’s chief physician, a nurse practitioner and nurses — looking after them continuously.
“Of the 25 Bon Air residents who have tested positive, I’m pleased to report that 21 exhibited no outward symptoms, and only four had symptoms that were no more severe than a cold or flu,” Department of Juvenile Justice Chief Physician Dr. Christopher Moon said, according to TV station WWBT.
“Any resident who tested positive was immediately placed in medical isolation. Thirteen of those residents have already been released from medical isolation per Virginia Department of Health guidelines,” he added.
The Associated Press reported that of the 97 kids who have tested positive for the new coronavirus nationally, more than half of them are in Virginia and Louisiana. The 25 Bon Air kids represent a quarter of cases reported in all youth facilities in the U.S.
Children’s rights advocates have called on Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to start releasing children as soon as possible.
For weeks, advocacy groups have sounded the alarm on the dangers the spread of the new coronavirus posed to the tens of thousands of kids who are currently locked up in detention centers across the nation.
“Unfortunately, those sworn to protect our vulnerable youth have failed,” Liz Ryan, a youth policy expert, told the AP.
“It’s clear that refusing to listen to public health experts has put our youth and communities at extreme risk,” added Ryan, who’s the head of the Washington-based nonprofit Youth First Initiative.
On April 2, Virginia officials announced that two staff members at Bon Air had tested positive for COVID-19. The facility houses around 280 kids, ages 11 to 20.
Moon said that all kids at Bon Air are screened for the virus twice a day. If they show any symptoms, they are immediately tested. Test results take from 24 to 48 hours to come back to the facility.
“When we received the first positive test for a Bon Air resident, and at the recommendation of the VDH, out of an abundance of caution we also tested residents who had a temperature between 99 and 100,” Dr. Bridget Wilson, Bon Air’s nurse manager, said.
“It was this slightly elevated temperature that led to the vast majority of our tests. We will continue to be aggressive with our testing,” Wilson added.