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TCSO Corrections Officer Tests Positive for COVID-19

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 17, 2020

TCSO Corrections Officer Tests Positive for COVID-19

A corrections officer assigned to a building in the Travis County Correctional Complex tested positive for COVID-19 and immediately reported it to TCSO HR.

It has been determined that the officer followed agency guidelines by wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing. The officer also had very limited interaction with staff and inmates. TCSO’s Director of Inmate Medical Services contacted Austin Public Health to get their guidance for next steps. APH advised that the steps being taken at TCSO jail facilities are still sound, and because the officer’s interaction was so limited, there is no need to make protocol changes at this time.

TCSO continues to follow all CDC guidelines regarding safety precautions and COVID-19 testing. There are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 among the inmate population. Today, there are 10 inmates in quarantine and 183 in isolation.

The difference between Quarantine and Isolation:
Quarantine houses inmates who are experiencing virus-like illness symptoms. About 1/3 of them have no symptoms and are in quarantine because they either refused to answer CDC guideline questions or answered yes to all CDC guideline questions on intake. They’re housed in quarantine until cleared by our medical staff. Quarantine is on a separate floor from all other inmates. Each inmate is in a single-occupancy cell and is seen twice a day by medical professionals.

Isolation: ALL newly booked, (healthy) inmates are held in single-occupancy cells for the first 10-14 days as another layer of protection to keep COVID-19 from entering our general population. If an inmate doesn’t show symptoms within that 10-14 day time period, our medical staff is more confident that it’s safe to introduce that person into the general population. We implemented this process on March 30th with approval from Texas Commission on Jail Standards.

14 inmates have been tested for COVID-19. 11 results were negative and 3 are pending. The decision to administer a COVID-19 test to an inmate is made by the treating physician.

The Travis County Jail and Correctional Complex continue to exercise myriad prevention methods in an effort to keep the virus from infecting employees and inmates. Those efforts include, but are not limited to:

  • Following CDC guidelines as they are issued
  • Enhanced sanitation procedures in all facilities
  • Posted information in inmate units concerning social distancing, handwashing, and COVID-FAQ’s
  • Temperature screening of staff at all points of entry to jail facilities
  • Temperature screening for parolee returns to CC
  • At intake, if physical symptoms are identified or the individual refuses to answer the COVID screening questions, they’re housed in “Quarantine” at TCJ until cleared by medical
  • ALL new inmates are held in isolation-housing for 10-14 days. Medical staff monitors them daily. If the inmate hasn’t developed symptoms within that 10-14 day period, he/she is then moved into general population.
  • Created new housing unit for age 65+ and the medically compromised
  • Waived all sick call fees pertaining to symptoms of the virus or the flu
  • Video with COVID-19 information has been created to ensure all inmates can also hear from professionals
  • Inmates in isolation receive their meals on disposable styrofoam trays and are provided disposable paper spoons
  • All family visitation is via kiosk/tablet. The cost of video visitation has been discounted by 50%. This will be in effect for the duration of the stay at home order.
  • Virtual courtrooms are fully active
  • Other Official/ Confidential visits are conducted virtually. (Court competency evaluations, etc.)
  • Tablets are in use by all general population inmates
  • Social distancing protocols are in place. Designated markings in strategically placed locations further encourage social distancing.
  • Additional hand sanitizing stations in high traffic areas
  • Installed sink in TCCB sally port for hand washing
  • Installed Plexiglas barriers in booking, front visitation at TCCC, HSB clinic /medical units, and medical areas of booking
  • HEPA Air Scrubbers in quarantine units and Booking
  • Implemented the use of Chemical Foggers and sprayers for area decontamination
  • Restricted all non-essential staff, partners and volunteers from coming in to the jail to reduce potential exposures
  • Implemented processes for behavioral health staff to see patients remotely 

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Submitted By: Kristen Dark, Sr. Public Information Officer
512-318-5669

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