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With 20 Bexar County Jail inmates now testing positive for COVID-19, records show other county lockups around Texas are in danger of becoming pandemic petri dishes.
As of April 19, 180 county jail inmates around the state have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, as have 153 jailers, according to Texas Commission on Jail Standards data obtained by criminal justice blog Grits for Breakfast.
Another 3,668 county jail inmates were in isolation or quarantine, while 160 awaited test results, the numbers show. A total of three inmates with COVID-19 were being treated offsite.
According to TCJS, test results were also pending for 144 jailers quarantined or isolated because of possible exposure.
The numbers come to light as Bexar County revealed that five additional jail inmates had tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of known infections among inmates to 20.
In addition, 21 deputies, four other employees and a University Health System nurse assigned to the jail have tested positive.
During a Monday evening briefing, County Judge Nelson Wolff detailed projects to stop the spread of the virus, including setting up a 64-bed recovery unit in the facility’s south tower for sick inmates. He also said the jail has taken delivery of 52,000 face masks for staff and inmates.
However, in an Express-News story a dozen Bexar inmates, their families and lawyers said crowded conditions make social distancing impossible in the jail. They also dispute Bexar County Sheriff’s Office claims that it’s taking inmates temperatures twice daily and frequently cleaning common areas.
Inmates reported meager feedings and a scarcity of soap, adding that they were only supplied with masks a week ago, after the first inmate tested positive.
“I really need you right now, my love,” inmate Josh Perusquia wrote in a letter to his girlfriend, the paper reports. “I don’t really get scared of anything but COVID-19 being in the building where I am trapped is starting to freak me out more and more.”
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