Officials at the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren County Regional Jail said Thursday that an inmate has tested positive for COVID-19.

Jail Superintendent Russ Gilkison said the jail’s process worked as planned and the case was detected before the man, who was not identified, made it into the general population.

According to a news release, the man entered RSW on Tuesday and told officials he may have been exposed to COVID-19 within the last week. He said he had not had any symptoms but had developed a cough that day.

The staff did not detect any other symptoms of COVID-19 but administered two antibody tests to determine what other steps they needed to take.

Gilkison said the jail purchased about 300 antibody tests early on for instances such as this. The tests, he said, are to help staff make decisions about how to treat incoming or current inmates who appear sick.

The first antibody test returned positive, Gilkison said, and the staff gave the man a second test. Antibody tests are not as accurate as the nasal swab tests that determine whether someone has the virus.

After the second test, also conducted on Tuesday, returned positive the jail administered a nasal swab test and sent it to the state lab in Richmond.

Gilkison said the jail received the positive test result back Thursday evening.

The man has been isolated in a negative airflow isolation cell and has not had any contact with other inmates. The guards who are monitoring him have full personal protective equipment — including masks, gloves and gowns — and are assigned to his area for their entire shift.

Gilkison said staff assigned to the patient’s area are screened to make sure they don’t have any health conditions themselves and they do not interact with other staff during their shift.

The man will remain at RSW unless his health deteriorates, Gilkison said.

“Not everyone who gets this virus is hospitalized,” he said. “We are monitoring him, evaluating him multiple times a day … right now he’s stable.”

Although the state has begun the shift into phase one of reopening, the jail has not changed any of its procedures for inmates or staff, Gilkison said. Staff are still monitored when they show up for work and when they leave as well as throughout their shift.

“We haven’t relaxed any of our screening processes for staff,” he said. “There isn’t anything else we can do to ramp up where we’re already at.”

If the jail detects a second positive case,  Gilkison said he imagines the health department will want to conduct a point prevalence survey — testing every inmate and staff member — but with a single case, who has been isolated since his arrival, that isn’t necessary yet.

“Our process was successful in that we caught the person in intake before they even got to the booking area,” he said. “If there’s a positive to it, it’s that our process worked.”

Contact Max Thornberry at