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Texas detention officer dies from COVID-19

Eighteen employees at the East Hidalgo Detention Facility have tested positive and are quarantining at home


By Lorenzo Zazueta-Castro
The Monitor

LA VILLA, Texas — A detention officer at the East Hidalgo Detention facility has died as a result of contracting COVID-19 while 18 more have been confirmed to have the virus, according to a spokesman for GEO Group

In a prepared statement, GEO Group, the company which runs the private facility, underscored its focus on the safety of its employees.

“From the onset of this unprecedented pandemic, the health and safety of those entrusted to our care and our employees, who are on the front lines making daily sacrifices, has been our top priority,” the release stated.

“While we have taken comprehensive steps at our facilities nationwide to address and mitigate the risks of COVID-19; (the virus) has still unfortunately impacted a number (of) our facilities, including the East Hidalgo Detention Center.”

But despite their efforts, the company confirmed Monday evening that they were told of a correctional officer’s death.

“…We express our condolences to their family, friends, and colleagues at the facility,” the release added.

Despite a request from The Monitor, the man’s identity was not disclosed.

In addition to the death of an employee, the GEO Group confirmed that as of Monday, 18 of their employees at the detention center had tested positive and were subsequently isolated at home.

“All of the employees who tested positive are currently at home on self-quarantine, where they will remain until they meet the return-to-work guidelines for essential workers issued by the CDC. At this point in time, there are no positive inmate cases at the facility,” the GEO Group release stated. “We will continue to coordinate closely with the U.S. Marshals Service and local health agencies to ensure the health and safety of all those in our care and our employees.”

Just last week, the GEO Group confirmed seven employees had tested positive.

The federal courthouse was also not operating at full capacity after it was learned that at least one person who had visited the U.S. Public Defender’s office had tested positive for the virus, leading to a closure of that office. Word among attorneys who work at the courthouse spread about unusual cancellations and ultimately to the reason for the cancellations.


©2020 The Monitor (McAllen, Texas)