Harris Co. jail sees first COVID-19 diagnosis

By R. HANS MILLER | TIMES SENIOR REPORTER
Posted 3/29/20

Harris County reported that an inmate has tested positive for COVID-19 Sunday. The prisoner was arrested March 17 and is one of about 30 inmates that are exhibiting symptoms of the Novel …

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Harris Co. jail sees first COVID-19 diagnosis

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Harris County reported that an inmate has tested positive for COVID-19 Sunday. The prisoner was arrested March 17 and is one of about 30 inmates that are exhibiting symptoms of the Novel Coronavirus.

“The Harris County Sheriff’s Office medical staff and detention staff are taking every possible precaution to manage the spread of COVID- 19 among our nearly 8,000 inmates,” said Sheriff Ed Gonzalez in a press release send out shortly after 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon.

The jailed patient is a 39-year-old male that was arrested March 17 by the Houston Police Department for a parole violation. He has been placed in quarantine and jail medical staff indicate he is in stable condition at the jail at the county’s 1200 Baker Street facility.

The news comes after Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo has spoken repeatedly about her administration’s efforts to release low-risk, non-violent offenders from the jail system in order to reduce risks to prisoners. The concern is that the close quarters required of a jail environment could put people at risk of contracting the deadly disease unnecessarily, she said.

HCSO reported Friday that it has seen a total of eight cases of COVID-19 among its deputies as of Friday afternoon as well. Most officers are at home in self-quarantine, HCSO reports.

“Despite their heroic efforts, we know this insidious virus is nearly impossible to contain in a jail environment. I am in awe of the efforts of our team, and I remain especially concerned for the safety of those who show up for their shifts each day, knowing the risk to themselves and their families,” Gonzalez said.

Harris County Sheriff's Office, Ed Gonzalez, Lina Hidalgo, HCSO, self-quarantine, disease

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