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Inmates exposed to COVID-19 at jail

Several defendants were missing from hearings in Suffolk Circuit Court on Thursday due to being exposed to COVID-19 at Western Tidewater Regional Jail.

Lt. Col. Ernest Bower, deputy superintendent of Western Tidewater Regional Jail, stated in an email Thursday afternoon that an inmate that entered the jail on Aug. 17 tested positive, and the results were received Thursday morning.

“As of now, we have tested four other inmates and four staff members that have been in direct contact with this inmate,” Bower stated in the email. “At this time, all results are negative and we have had no other positive results.”

Jail Superintendent Col. William C. Smith stated in an email that all inmates coming into the jail are tested. He said new inmates are offered vaccinations, and any inmate or staff member who requests a vaccination can receive one. The jail has about 300 vaccinations on hand and roughly 40% of the staff is vaccinated, Smith stated.