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Longtime Texas jail employee dies from COVID-19

The death comes as El Paso County’s two-facility jail system deals with more than 200 COVID-19 cases among staff and inmates

By Daniel Borunda
El Paso Times

EL PASO, Texas — A civilian employee at the El Paso County Jail in Downtown has died from complications from COVID-19, sheriff’s officials said.

The death comes as the county’s two-facility jail system deals with more than 200 coronavirus infections among inmates and staff.

The 70-year-old man, who had underlying medical issues, died Friday at a hospital, sheriff’s officials said Tuesday. The employee’s name was not released.

He had been with the Sheriff’s Office for 18 years and worked as a jail cashier dealing with jail bonds and money for inmate commissary accounts.

He was “highly admired and had an excellent reputation,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a statement offering condolences to his family and friends.

More than 200 cases in El Paso County jails

On Tuesday, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office also reported that more than 200 inmates and employees at its two jails have been infected with COVID-19.

The Sheriff’s Office reported that 173 inmates and 46 employees have active cases of COVID-19 in the county’s two jail facilities as of Monday.

In the Downtown jail, there are 42 inmates and 29 employees with active cases, according to a Sheriff’s Office summary made to Commissioners Court.

In the Jail Annex, there are 131 inmates and 17 employees with active infections.

The Sheriff’s Office reports an 8% infection rate across its jail system.

As of Monday, the Downtown jail was housing 703 inmates and had 269 sworn employees and the Jail Annex was holding 1,466 inmates and had 311 employees.

Jail inmates in calls to the El Paso Times expressed concerns regarding the housing of sick inmates and claimed inmates aren’t being informed of test results.

The first reported inmate infection at the Downtown jail was on May 22, when a man tested positive while under a two-week isolation after being booked into jail.

Sheriff Richard Wiles has said his office is working to mitigate exposure at the jails, including having inmates and staff wear masks and isolating new inmates.

Inmates who are under isolation have access to 24/7 medical attention, and those in isolation are checked on every 30 minutes, he said.

Temperature screenings are done for inmates and visitors arriving at the jails.

More than 2,000 coronavirus test have been administered at the Jail Annex and more than 1,140 have been done at for inmates and staff at the Downtown jail, the Sheriff’s Office said.


©2020 the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas)