Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Number of Texas jail inmates with COVID rose 187% in 8 days

Governor Abbott may want to open the economy back up, but in county jails, the problem is only getting worse. The number of Texas county jail inmates diagnosed with COVID-19 increased by 187% in just over one week!

As of April 19th, 180 Texas county jail inmates had tested positive for the coronavirus, as well as 153 jailers, Grits had reported based on documentation from the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.

As of yesterday, April 27th, TCJS reported that a whopping 518 jail inmates have now been diagnosed with the coronavirus, along with 219 staff. An additional 33 inmates and 384 jail staff are in isolation awaiting test results. And more than 5,000 other inmates - about 9% of the statewide jail population - have been quarantined or put into isolation but are not being tested.

Nearly half the reported inmates with positive diagnoses, 243 of  them, were in Harris County. But other counties saw significant increases. The number of cases in Tarrant County, for example, jumped from seven to 47. Dallas went from 64 inmates testing positive to 155.

CORRECTION: The original headline mistakenly said the increase was 238% - I'd accidentally divided by the earlier number of diagnosed jailers instead of inmates. Spotted within 5 minutes after posting and corrected it ASAP, but I regret the error.

UPDATE: It won't take long, it seems, for my original, erroneous headline to become correct. In the April 28 report, TCJS says 569 inmates have now been diagnosed with the coronavirus (along with 228 staff). That comes to a 216% increase over 9 days. How is this not bigger news? See related coverage from the Dallas Observer.

NUTHER UPDATE: As of 10 days out, the increase is now 248%, with 626 inmates reported testing positive for coronavirus as of April 29. The number of jailers testing positive increased 57.5% over this 10-day period, from 153 to 241.

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