coronavirus

3 COVID-19 Cases Confirmed in Texas State Prisons; 42 Employees Isolating at Home

Others found to have been in contact with the employee will be quarantined; inmates to be medically restricted

File photo of a Texas prison.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice confirms three people have tested positive for COVID-19 in state prisons, including an inmate, employee and a contractor, and that 42 employees are now isolating at home.

The TDCJ said the staffer, a 38-year-old who was not further identified, was not a correctional officer but did have contact with others at the Holliday Unit in Huntsville.

The agency said the employee wasn't feeling well on March 19 and left work early. On March 23 the staffer went to a doctor and was subsequently tested for COVID-19. The positive test was returned Wednesday.

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The employee is in self-quarantine and is in good condition. A full contact investigation, including both staffers and inmates, is underway to determine who the employee had contact with. So far, 42 employees have been identified as at-risk and are in self-isolation at home.

Anyone found to have been in close contact with the jail employee will be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days; offenders found to have been in contact with the staffer will be medically restricted, the TDCJ said.

Holliday is a men's transfer unit located along Interstate 45 in Huntsville. According to the TDCJ website, Holliday has 435 employees, 319 in security and 81 in non-security roles. The jail has a maximum capacity of 2,128 inmates and a medical staff of 25.

Posted by Texas Department of Criminal Justice on Wednesday, March 25, 2020

The TDCJ said a 37-year-old prisoner at the Lychner State Jail near Houston began feeling ill on March 21 and was sent to the state's hospital wing in Galveston for treatment after testing positive for coronavirus. The man came into TDCJ custody on Feb. 27 from Harris County where he had been convicted on two drug possession charges.

"The offender reported he was suffering from shortness of breath and a cough," the TDCJ said. "He was immediately evaluated in the medical facility there and transported to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston. After evaluation and treatment, the offender was transferred to Hospital Galveston where he was tested for the COVID-19 virus."

A contractor for the TDCJ has also been confirmed to have been infected with COVID-19. No further details about this case are available.

Visitation at state prisons has been suspended by an executive order from Gov. Greg Abbott.

The TDCJ said they've also stopped accepting prisoner transfers from the Dallas County Jail after an inmate tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday. That inmate was the first of seven inmates now confirmed to have been infected with the virus in the Dallas County Jail.

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