Home News COVID-19 Business Updates TDCJ COVID-19 Numbers Climbing

TDCJ COVID-19 Numbers Climbing

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Beto, Eastham, Michael Cases Goes Up

By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

EAST TEXAS –The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) is a major employer in both Anderson and Houston Counties. Prison facilities employ a significant number of workers and there are at least 20 prisons in the area to where people commute on a daily basis, including units in Huntsville, Rusk and Tennessee Colony.

Even though some prisons throughout the state have not yet seen a case of COVID-19, quite a few others have. System-wide, as of Thursday, April 16, there were 31 pending tests. Of the other 531 tests given to offenders, there were 327 positive results and 204 negative results.

Three weeks later – on May 7 – the numbers showed a drastic increase. There were 244 pending tests. Of the other 1,536 tests given to offenders, there were 965 positive results and 571 negative results.

The numbers from Thursday, May 14 showed a continued increase as they topped the 1,000 mark with 1,078. The latest update showed there were 232 pending cases and 697 negative results. 

On April 16 – for employees and contract staff – 158 people had tested positive for the virus while 647 tested negative. There are also 259 pending tests.

By May 7, 535 TDCJ employees had tested positive for the virus. Nearly 1,524 had tested negative and there were 424 pending tests. 

A week later on May 14, 697 TDCJ employees had tested positive for the virus

With limited social distancing for the prisoners, the close confines often times prevent correctional officers and TDCJ staff from adhering to the prescribed six feet away distance, which often allows COVID-19 to spread unchecked. 

Once inside the unit, the virus can spread rapidly from offender-to-offender, as well as to the TDCJ employees. At the end of their shifts, the correctional workers leave the unit where they work and return to the communities where they live, not knowing if they have been infected.    

The inmates who have been tested fall into one of several categories designated by TDCJ administration.

According to the prison system’s website, these categories are:

  • Pending Test – COVID-19 test that has been administered at an outside medical facility or in a unit infirmary and it still pending results. Offender in medical isolation.
  • Negative Test – CONFIRMED negative COVID-19 test. Offenders returned to general population.
  • Positive Test – CONFIRMED positive COVID-19 test. Offender in medical isolation.
  • Medical Restriction – Used to separate and restrict the movement of well persons who may have been exposed to a communicable disease to see if they become ill. These people may have been exposed to a disease and do not know it, or they may have the disease but do not show symptoms. Medical restriction can help limit the spread of disease.
  • Medical Isolation – For people who are sick and contagious. Isolation is used to separate ill persons who have a communicable disease from those who are healthy. Isolation restricts the movement of ill persons to help stop the spread of disease.

Digging deeper into the numbers, there are six regions in the TDCJ system along with private facilities, a multi-use facility and parole confinement facilities.

Anderson County and Houston County fall in Region II and Region I, respectively.

In Region I there are 13 prison units, with one inside of Houston County and seven more relatively close to the county boundaries. These units are: Eastham; Ellis; Estelle; Ferguson; Goree; Holliday; Huntsville; and Wynne. 

In Region II there are also 13 prison units, with five inside of Anderson County and two more, relatively close to the county boundaries. These units are: Beto; Coffield; Gurney Transfer; Hodge DDP; Michael; Powledge; and Skyview Psychiatric.

There are also three private prisons – Diboll, Moore, B. and Bradshaw, along with the multi-use East Texas Treatment facility, which are relatively close to Anderson and Houston Counties.   

Using the TDCJ categories of offender pending tests, negative tests, positive tests, medical restriction and medical isolation, the 19 area prisons showed the following results for April 16 and April 23.  

In Region I: 

  • Eastham Unit (Lovelady) – On April 16, there were: 0 pending; 1 negative test; 0 positive tests; 0 medical restriction; and 0 medical isolation. By May 7, there were: 7 pending; 8 negative tests; 35 positive tests; 1,203 medical restriction; and 42 medical isolation. There were also 12 TDCJ employee who tested positive for COVID-19. On May 14, there were: 1 pending; 18 negative tests; 50 positive tests; 1,205 medical restriction; and 51 medical isolation. There were also 16 TDCJ employees who tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Ellis Unit (Huntsville area) – On April 16, there were: 8 pending; 15 negative tests; 61 positive tests; 106 medical restriction; and 1 medical isolation. By May 7, there were: 9 pending; 14 negative tests; 50 positive tests; 1,202 medical restriction; and 69 medical isolation. There were also 20 TDCJ employees who tested positive for COVID-19. On May 14, there were: 0 pending; 21 negative tests; 55 positive tests; 1,008 medical restriction; and 55 medical isolation. There were also 26 TDCJ employees who tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Estelle Unit (Huntsville area) – On April 16, there were: 6 pending; 63 negative tests; 52 positive tests; 1,487 medical restriction; and 5 medical isolation. There were also 6 TDCJ employees who tested positive for COVID-19. By May 7, there were: 6 pending; 63 negative test; 52 positive tests; 816 medical restriction; and 58 medical isolation. There were also 16 TDCJ employees who tested positive for COVID-19. On May 14, there were: 4 pending; 69 negative tests; 85 positive tests; 1,275 medical restriction; and 89 medical isolation. There were also 18 TDCJ employees who tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Ferguson Unit (Midway) – On April 16, there were: 0 pending; 0 negative tests; 0 positive tests; 0 medical restriction; and 0 medical isolation. By May 7, there were: 0 pending; 0 negative test; 0 positive tests; 0 medical restriction; and 0 medical isolation. There were, however, 2 TDCJ employees who tested positive for COVID-19. On May 14, there were: 0 pending; 0 negative tests; 0 positive tests; 0 medical restriction; and 0 medical isolation. There were also 2 TDCJ employees who tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Goree Unit (Huntsville) – On April 16, there were: 0 pending; 1 negative tests; 2 positive tests; 62 medical restriction and 2 medical isolation. By May 7, there were: 3 pending; 5 negative test; 9 positive tests; 298 medical restriction; and 12 medical isolation. There were also 3 TDCJ employees who tested positive for COVID-19. On May 14, there were: 14 pending; 6 negative tests; 10 positive tests; 172 medical restriction; and 24 medical isolation. There were also 5 TDCJ employees who tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Holliday Transfer (Huntsville) – On April 16, there were: 0 pending; 2 negative tests; 0 positive tests; 0 medical restriction; and 0 medical isolation. There was also 1 TDCJ employee who tested positive for COVID-19. By May 7, there were: 2 pending; 2 negative test; 0 positive tests; 0 medical restriction; and 2 medical isolation. There were also 2 TDCJ employees who tested positive for COVID-19.  On May 14, there were: 13 pending; 7 negative tests; 0 positive tests; 197 medical restriction; and 13 medical isolation. There were also 2 TDCJ employees who tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Huntsville Unit – On April 16, there were: 0 pending; 4 negative tests; 0 positive tests; 2 medical restriction; and 0 medical isolation. By May 7, there were: 2 pending; 51 negative tests; 38 positive tests; 445 medical restriction; and 40 medical isolation. On May 14, there were: 0 pending; 65 negative tests; 47 positive tests; 499 medical restriction; and 47 medical isolation. There were also 1 TDCJ employee who tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Wynne Unit (Huntsville) – On April 16, there were: 1 pending; 4 negative tests; 38 positive tests; 1,830 medical restriction; and 39 medical isolation. There were also 14 TDCJ employee who tested positive for COVID-19. By May 7, there were: 3 pending; 18 negative tests; 47 positive tests; 2,159 medical restriction; and 50 medical isolation. There were also 62 TDCJ employee who tested positive for COVID-19. On May 14, there were: 2 pending; 18 negative tests; 32 positive tests; 2,113 medical restriction; and 34 medical isolation. There were also 65 TDCJ employees who tested positive for COVID-19.

In Region II:

  • Beto Unit (Palestine area) – On April 16, there were: 0 pending; 15 negative tests; 118 positive tests; 2,346 medical restriction; and 118 medical isolation. There was also 1 TDCJ employee who tested positive for COVID-19. By May 7, there were: 18 pending; 52 negative test; 61 positive tests; 2,381 medical restriction; and 79 medical isolation. There were also 20 TDCJ employees who tested positive for COVID-19. On May 14, there were: 5 pending; 58 negative tests; 70 positive tests; 2,807 medical restriction; and 63 medical isolation. There were also 21 TDCJ employees who tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Coffield Unit (Palestine area) – On April 16, there were: 0 pending; 2 negative tests; 0 positive tests; 2 medical restriction; and 0 medical isolation. By May 7, there were: 2 pending; 9 negative test; 0 positive tests; 151 medical restriction; and 1 medical isolation. On May 14, there were:  4 pending; 10 negative tests; 0 positive tests; 343 medical restriction; and 0 medical isolation. There was also 1 TDCJ employee who tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Gurney Transfer (Palestine area) – On April 16, there were: 0 pending; 1 negative tests; 1 positive tests; 81 medical restriction; and 1 medical isolation. By May 7, there were: 23 pending; 7 negative test; 15 positive tests; 590 medical restriction; and 38 medical isolation. On May 14, there were: 25 pending; 11 negative tests; 15 positive tests; 385 medical restriction; and 40 medical isolation. There were also 4 TDCJ employees who tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Hodge DDP Unit (Rusk) – On April 16, there were: 0 pending; 1 negative tests; 0 positive tests; 0 medical restriction; and 0 medical isolation. By May 7, there were: 1 pending; 1 negative test; 0 positive tests; 0 medical restriction; and 1 medical isolation. On May 14, there were: 0 pending; 3 negative tests; 0 positive tests; 0 medical restriction; and 0 medical isolation.
  • Michael Unit (Palestine area) – On April 16, there were:  0 pending; 4 negative tests; 0 positive tests; 0 medical restriction; and 0 medical isolation. By May 7, there were: 9 pending; 18 negative test; 45 positive tests; 858 medical restriction; and 54 medical isolation. There were also 22 TDCJ employees who tested positive for COVID-19. On May 14, there were: 8 pending; 19 negative tests; 47 positive tests; 1,096 medical restriction; and 55 medical isolation. There were also 28 TDCJ employees who tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Powledge Unit (Palestine area) – On April 16, there were: 0 pending; 5 negative tests; 0 positive tests; 0 medical restriction; and 0 medical isolation. By May 7, there were: 0 pending; 3 negative test; 0 positive tests; 346 medical restriction; and 0 medical isolation. On May 14, there were: 1 pending; 3 negative tests; 0 positive tests; 0 medical restriction; and 0 medical isolation. There was also 1 TDCJ employee who tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Skyview Psychiatric Unit (Rusk) – On April 16, there were: 0 pending; 1 negative tests; 0 positive tests; 0 medical restriction; and 0 medical isolation. By May 7, there were: 1 pending; 2 negative test; 0 positive tests; 47 medical restriction; and 1 medical isolation. There were also 5 TDCJ employees who tested positive for COVID-19. On May 14, there were: 2 pending; 1 negative tests; 0 positive tests; 63 medical restriction; and 2 medical isolation. There were also 5 TDCJ employees who tested positive for COVID-19.

In Private Prisons:

  • Diboll (Diboll) – On April 16, there were: 0 pending; 1 negative tests; 0 positive tests; 0 medical restriction; and 0 medical isolation. By May 7, there were: 0 pending; 0 negative test; 0 positive tests; 0 medical restriction; and 0 medical isolation. On May 14, there were: 0 pending; 0 negative tests; 0 positive tests; 0 medical restriction; and 0 medical isolation.
  • Moore, B (Overton) – On April 16, there were: 0 pending; 0 negative tests; 0 positive tests; 2 medical restriction; and 0 medical isolation. By May 7, there were: 0 pending; 0 negative tests; 0 positive tests; 0 medical restriction; and 0 medical isolation. On May 14, there were: 0 pending; 0 negative tests; 0 positive tests; 0 medical restriction; and 0 medical isolation.
  • Bradshaw (Henderson) – On April 16, there were: 0 pending; 2 negative tests; 0 positive tests; 7 medical restriction; and 0 medical isolation.  By May 7, there were: 0 pending; 2 negative tests; 0 positive tests; 0 medical restriction; and 0 medical isolation. On May 14, there were: 0 pending; 2 negative tests; 0 positive tests; 0 medical restriction; and 0 medical isolation.
  • ETT (Henderson) – On April 16, there were: 0 pending; 4 negative tests; 0 positive tests; 7 medical restriction; and 0 medical isolation.  There was also 1 TDCJ employee who tested positive for COVID-19. By May 7, there were: 0 pending; 3 negative test; 0 positive tests; 0 medical restriction; and 0 medical isolation. There were also 2 TDCJ employee who tested positive for COVID-19. On May 14, there were: 0 pending; 3 negative tests; 0 positive tests; 0 medical restriction; and 0 medical isolation. There were also 2 TDCJ employees who tested positive for COVID-19.

System wide, 1,798 offenders have tested positive for COVID-19. Of those who have tested positive, 452 have recovered, 30 have presumably died because of the virus, 3 have died because of non-related causes and there are 25 pending autopsies.  

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.   

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