The number of Harris County Sheriff’s Office employees diagnosed with coronavirus has climbed to 76 as long-awaited test results begin arriving.
Most of those testing positive – 63 – are employees who work in the Harris County Jail. Three HCSO employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 are currently hospitalized.
There are currently 252 Harris County Sheriff’s Office deputies, detention officers and support staff on quarantine for possible COVID-19 exposure. Three of these employees are currently in the hospital. The Sheriff’s Office has now seen 108 previously quarantined employees return to duty. Seventy Sheriff’s Office employees have been tested, but are still awaiting results. Thirty-five employees have received negative test results.
Test results for dozens of jail inmates who have been in quarantine with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 are now in, as well. These tests have con firmed that a total of 46 inmates are positive for the virus. These inmates were already in quarantine because of their symptoms. The number of inmates in observational quarantine – meaning they have no symptoms but may have been exposed to the virus – now stands at 1,592.
The Sheriff’s Office is working with Harris County Public Health to identify co-workers, inmates, and members of the public who may have had close contact with the diagnosed employees so they can take necessary precautions, including quarantine and testing for those with symptoms.
All jail employees have been issued protective masks and are instructed to wear them while on duty. All inmates have also been issued masks. Regular temperature checks are performed daily on all employees as they report for duty. Other measures taken in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 among Sheriff’s Office staff and inmates include:
- Early isolation of arrestees with COVID-1 9 symptoms entering the jail at intake
- Masking all arrestees at JPC jail intake
- 7-day “buffer isolation” of all new inmates prior to releasing to general population
- Social distancing of inmates (as much as possible), detention staff, and medical staff, even in break rooms
- Increased availability of soap, water, and hand sanitizer
- Increased frequency of facility sanitization efforts
- Increased cleaning supplies provided for inmate use
- Inmate education at the Joint Processing Center screening on mask wearing, social distancing, and frequent hand washing
- Suspended fees for inmate sick call requests
- Aggressive quarantining of a tank when an inmate is moved to isolation for COVID 19 symptoms
- Daily temperature screenings of worker inmates prior to leaving their tanks
- Examining ways to reduce inmate move ment
- Replacing live meetings to conference calls
- Holding court hearings via video
- Implementing video inmate visitation
- Temperature screening all inmates released from jail
- Homeless screening all inmates leaving jail for hotel or shelter placement
- Screening homeless inmates with COVID-19 symptoms and placing them COVID-19 hotels
- Advising all inmates to go home and self-quarantine for 14 days after they leave jail
- All inmates are wearing masks upon jail discharge and have COVID-19 discharge instructions and resources