Mecklenburg facility closes as regional jail struggles with COVID cases

Meherrin River Regional Satellite Jail located on Prison Rd. in Boydton.  

As of January 11, the Virginia Department of Health is still reporting 19 outbreaks in the Southside Health District consisting of Mecklenburg, Brunswick, and Halifax counties. Mecklenburg is currently reporting 1,457 positive cases with one additional death bringing the total to 40 in the county. In addition there are two new hospitalizations.

There have been over 20 cases reported between staff and inmates at the Meherrin River Regional Jail in Alberta. A source says that the virus was brought in to the jail by an employee and has rapidly spread through the back building, which houses inmates. The Alberta based regional jail facility is capable of housing 697 inmates. 

According to County Administrator, Wayne Carter, the satellite location in Boydton has “temporarily” shut down “due to staffing concerns”. This location is just off of Highway 58 in Boydton and is an 80-bed facility for pre-trial and work release offenders. 

The Boydton location closed on Thursday, January 7 and all staff was asked to report to the Alberta jail on Friday to work. Before closing there were only six work-release inmates housed in the facility. No COVID cases were reported at this location.

Officers who test positive are required to quarantine for at least 14 days by CDC standards and provide a negative test result before returning to work leaving remaining officers short-staffed and overworked, which only adds to the employee retention issues within the MRRJ.

Faculty and staff entering the building have their temperatures taken and answer a series of COVID symptom related questions. Inmates testing positive for the COVID-19 virus are being moved to what is called a “quarantine unit” to prevent further spread.

Nearby Halifax County is currently reporting 1,414 cases with 36 hospitalizations and 44 deaths. Brunswick County is showing 821 positive cases with 44 hospitalizations and 7 deaths.