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Inmate At St. Thomas Jail Tests Positive For Tuberculosis On Monday, BOC Says

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — One detainee at the Criminal Justice Center on St. Thomas tested positive for Tuberculosis on Monday, the Virgin Islands Bureau of Corrections said.

As part of BOC’s medical intake and screening process, the one detainee’s test returned positive and was immediately transported to Schneider Regional Medical Center for additional treatment and care.

Under the leadership of Dr. Linda Callwood, BOC’s medical team began testing all inmates/detainees housed in the specific housing unit along with staff who may have come in contact with the TB positive detainee. At this time, no other inmate/detainee or staff tested positive for Tuberculosis.

Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but TB bacteria can attack any part of the body, such as the kidney, spine, and brain. Not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick.

Although TB is spread in a similar way to a cold or flu, it is not as contagious. You would have to spend prolonged periods (several hours) in close contact with an infected person to catch the infection yourself. For example, TB infections usually spread between family members who live in the same house.

Director Testamark said that “medical screening is necessary to identify potential illnesses and to ensure that inmates/detainees with known illnesses are identified for further assessment and continued treatment.” The Bureau has taken concrete steps to minimize medical-related risk at its facilities in accordance with CDC guidelines.

The Criminal Justice Center (CJC) is still on modified lockdown, with continuous disinfectant and cleaning. Inmate movement has been restricted within the facility.

All visits by vendors and all inmate transfers have been suspended until further notice. In-person visits, work details, and prisoner furloughs remain suspended, as they have been since the start of the pandemic.

Court hearings held virtually remain unaffected. Attorneys may visit with prisoners via secure video conference by contacting the facility to schedule a video visit.

By John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.