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Federal prisoners to be tested for virus before transfers

KINGWOOD, W.Va. (AP) — Preston County officials have been reassured that inmates transferred into a federal prison there will be tested for the new coronavirus first, The Dominion Post reported. The reassurances came after a fourth prisoner brought in as many weeks to the United States Penitentiary Hazelton tested positive for COVID-19.

Richard Heldreth is president of Local 420 of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents workers at Hazelton. He said bringing in inmates with COVID-19 could spread the virus throughout the community.

Preston County Health Department Director V.J. Davis and others spoke with officials from the U.S. Bureau of Prisons and U.S. Marshals Service on Friday and were told that testing before transfers will begin this coming week.

“They told us that their new procedure is going to be that all inmates, before they are transferred somewhere, will be tested for COVID. And if they test positive, they will not leave the facility they are at,” Davis said.

“They basically gave us the answer we were wanting,” he said. “Now it’s the process to see if they follow up on what they said.”