FCI Gilmer County inmate tests COVID-19 position, leaders demand fair access to testing

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – About 75 members of the American Federation of Government Employees held a rally at the the bottom of the eastbound I-68 exit ramp and Pierpont Road Saturday afternoon and got a surprise visit from state and local leaders.

The Gilmer County Health Department has confirmed one federal inmate there has tested positive for COVID-19. Health department officials in Gilmer County have confirmed that the prisoner was part of the group recently transferred there.

Dan Doyle is the National Vice President of AFGE District 4, he says the inmate was part of that group.

“They just bused inmates into Gilmer County two or three days ago and yesterday one of them tested positive for COVID even though the Federal Bureau of Prisons says they were screening the people for COVID,” Doyle said,”Obviously they’re doing adequate testing.”

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey told the guards and supporters that he was disappointed that 1,000 COVID-19 tests were allocated to members of the U.S. Senate by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

In a tweet Friday Azar said,”Good news: as the Senate reconvenes to do important work for the American people during this public health crisis, we have now received an initial request and are sending 3 Abbott point of care testing machines and 1,000 tests for their use.”

“If it’s good enough for the U.S. Senate to get tested, it should be good enough for all of our heroes on the front lines,” Morrisey said,”Our first responders, prison guards and nurse.”

Doyle says the plan to transfer the inmates will continue, according to federal officials.

“The plan from the Federal Bureau of Prisons is to continue to bus inmate into Hazelton unless we can stop them,” Doyle said.

Preston County Commission President, Samantha Stone says this is a moment to take a stand for all facilities across the country.

“This just isn’t to save Preston County or West Virgnia, this is to implement something that the Federal Bureau of Prisons is mandated to test people regardless of what pandemic or disease is flying around,” Stone said,”And not transport people that have issues going on until they get better.”

Morrisel and Stone said they will not stop fighting the transfer of federal inmates into West Virginia.

“I’m hopeful that folks are going to think the individuals in Preston County, Gilmer County and Monongalia County are just as important as the folks in the U.S. Senate,” Morrisey said.