Home News COVID-19 Business Updates TDCJ COVID-19 Cases Start to Creep Upwards

TDCJ COVID-19 Cases Start to Creep Upwards

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Both Offender and Employee Cases Rise

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, most others have – 94% as of July 30. After a spike at the end of May, the numbers showed a steady decrease in the month of June. Unfortunately, as June rolled into July, the numbers started to climb. Then, when the midpoint of July hit, they dropped significantly. By the end of the month, however, the numbers are creeping back up.     

On June 4, there were 4,570 positive cases of COVID-19. A week later, prison officials reported the number of offenders testing positive for the virus had fallen to 3,520. On June 25, the latest update reflected 617 active cases as well as an additional 6,625 recoveries. Two weeks later, on July 9, TDCJ officials reported 3,257 active cases as well as 7,428 recoveries. By July 16, however, the numbers dropped to 2,241 active cases while recoveries went up to 9,438. On July 30, there were 3,122 active cases and 11,613 recoveries.   

The Messenger first started tracking COVID-19 cases within the prison population on April 16. At that time there had been 531 tests administered which revealed 327 positive cases and 204 negative results. There were also 31 pending tests on April 16. 

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 continued to climb as TDCJ reported the total number of positive cases had gone from 3,408 on May 28 to 4,570 active cases on Thursday, June 4.

Just as the number of offenders testing positive for COVID-19 has increased in recent weeks, the number of TDCJ employees testing positive has also started to climb. On June 4, 991 employees tested positive. By June 11, there were only 386 active cases among employees. On Thursday, June 25, TDCJ reported 385 active cases among employees as well as 908 recoveries. Three weeks later, on July 16, TDCJ officials reported 1,126 active cases among employees as well as 1,207 recoveries. On July 30, there were 1,340 active cases and 1,972 recoveries.

When The Messenger first started tracking the TDCJ numbers on April 16, 158 employees and contract staff 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. Three weeks later on May 28, 888 TDCJ employees had tested positive for the virus.

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. These units are: Beto; Coffield; Gurney Transfer; Michael; and Powledge.

Using the TDCJ categories of offender active cases, recoveries, medical isolation, employee active cases and employee recoveries, the 13 area prisons showed the following results.  

In Region I: 

  • Eastham Unit (Lovelady) – On July 30, there were: 12 active cases; 106 recoveries; and 12 offenders in medical isolation. There were also 6 active case among TDCJ employees and 20 recoveries. On June 25, there were: 0 active cases; 103 recoveries; and 1 offender in medical isolation. There was also 1 active case among TDCJ employees and 18 recoveries. Beginning on April 16, there were: 0 positive tests; 0 medical restriction; and 0 medical isolation. On May 28, there were: 20 positive tests; 56 recoveries; 934 medical restriction; and 20 medical isolation. There were also 17 TDCJ employees who tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Ellis Unit (Huntsville area) – On July 30, there was: 1 active cases; 333 recoveries; and 1 offender in medical isolation. There were also 20 active case among TDCJ employees and 46 recoveries.  On June 25, there were: 0 active cases; 326 recoveries; and 1 offender in medical isolation. There were also 9 active case among TDCJ employees and 37 recoveries. Beginning on April 16, there were: 61 positive tests; 106 medical restriction; and 1 medical isolation. On May 28, there were: 75 recoveries; 193 positive tests; 1,846 medical restriction; and 193 medical isolation. There were also 28 TDCJ employees who tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Estelle Unit (Huntsville area) – On July 30, there were: 56 active cases; 576 recoveries; and 58 offenders in medical isolation. There were also 47 active cases among TDCJ employees and 63 recoveries. On June 25, there were: 25 active cases; 411 recoveries; and 10 offenders in medical isolation. There were also 7 active case among TDCJ employees and 30 recoveries. Beginning on April 16, there were: 52 positive tests; 1,487 medical restriction; and 5 medical isolation. There were also 6 TDCJ employees who tested positive for COVID-19. On May 28, there were: 54 recoveries; 227 positive tests; 1,411 medical restriction; and 232 medical isolation. There were also 10 TDCJ employees who tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Ferguson Unit (Midway) – On July 30, there were: 377 active cases; 53 recoveries; and 377 offenders in medical isolation. There were also 87 active cases among TDCJ employees and 43 recoveries. On June 25, there were: 0 active cases; 5 recoveries; and 0 offenders in medical isolation. There were also 0 active case among TDCJ employees and 2 recoveries. Beginning on April 16, there were: 0 positive tests; 0 medical restriction; and 0 medical isolation. On May 28, there were: 0 positive tests; 0 medical restriction; and 0 medical isolation.
  • Goree Unit (Huntsville) – On July 30, there were: 0 active cases; 68 recoveries; and 0 offenders in medical isolation. There were also 4 active cases among TDCJ employees and 10 recoveries. On June 25, there were: 0 active cases; 47 recoveries; and 0 offenders in medical isolation. There were also 4 active case among TDCJ employees and 6 recoveries. Beginning on April 16, there were: 2 positive tests; 62 medical restriction and 2 medical isolation. On May 28, there were: 22 recoveries; 3 positive tests; 106 medical restriction; and 3 medical isolation. There were also 7 TDCJ employees who tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Holliday Transfer (Huntsville) – On July 30, there were: 8 active cases; 266 recoveries; and 8 offenders in medical isolation. There were also 11 active cases among TDCJ employees and 26 recoveries. On June 25, there were: 0 active cases; 247 recoveries; and 1 offender in medical isolation. There was also 1 active case among TDCJ employees and 14 recoveries. Beginning on April 16, there were: 0 positive tests; 0 medical restriction; and 0 medical isolation. There was also 1 TDCJ employee who tested positive for COVID-19. On May 28, there were: 22 recoveries; 82 positive tests; 552 medical restriction; and 481 medical isolation. There were also 7 TDCJ employees who tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Huntsville Unit – On July 30, there was: 1 active case; 261 recoveries; and 1 offender in medical isolation. There were also 6 active cases among TDCJ employees and 15 recoveries. On June 25, there were: 6 active cases; 198 recoveries; and 7 offenders in medical isolation. There were also 5 active case among TDCJ employees and 5 recoveries. Beginning on April 16, there were: 0; 0 positive tests; 2 medical restriction; and 0 medical isolation. On May 28, there were: 36 recoveries; 68 positive tests; 593 medical restriction; and 80 medical isolation. There were also 1 TDCJ employees who tested positive for COVID-19
  • Wynne Unit (Huntsville) – On July 30, there were: 0 active cases; 335 recoveries; and 0 offenders in medical isolation. There were also 12 active cases among TDCJ employees and 84 recoveries. On June 25, there were: 3 active cases; 307 recoveries; and 3 offenders in medical isolation. There were also 4 active case among TDCJ employees and 68 recoveries. Beginning on April 16, there were: 38 positive tests; 1,830 medical restriction; and 39 medical isolation. There were also 14 TDCJ employee who tested positive for COVID-19. On May 28, there were: 68 recoveries; 197 positive tests; 1,573 medical restriction; and 197 medical isolation. There were also 37 TDCJ employees who tested positive for COVID-19.

In Region II:

  • Beto Unit (Palestine area) – On July 30, there was: 1 active case; 307 recoveries; and 1 offender in medical isolation. There were also 6 active cases among TDCJ employees and 57 recoveries. On June 25, there were: 1 active cases; 299 recoveries; and 1 offender in medical isolation. There were also 5 active case among TDCJ employees and 49 recoveries. Beginning on April 16, there were: 118 positive tests; 2,346 medical restriction; and 118 medical isolation. There was also 1 TDCJ employee who tested positive for COVID-19. On May 28, there were: 156 recoveries; 55 positive tests; 437 medical restriction; and 58 medical isolation. There were also 31 TDCJ employees who tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Coffield Unit (Palestine area) – On July 30, there were: 42 active cases; 759 recoveries; and 44 offenders in medical isolation. There were also 29 active cases among TDCJ employees and 26 recoveries. On June 25, there were: 5 active cases; 4 recoveries; and 7 offenders in medical isolation. There were also 3 active case among TDCJ employees and 3 recoveries. Beginning on April 16, there were: 0 positive tests; 2 medical restriction; and 0 medical isolation. On May 28, there were: 0 recoveries; 0 positive tests; 0 medical restriction; and 0 medical isolation. There was also 1 TDCJ employee who tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Gurney Transfer (Palestine area) – On July 30, there were: 3 active cases; 156 recoveries; and 3 offenders in medical isolation. There were also 3 active cases among TDCJ employees and 11 recoveries. On June 25, there were: 0 active cases; 140 recoveries; and 1 offender in medical isolation. There were also 2 active case among TDCJ employees and 6 recoveries. Beginning on April 16, there was: 1 positive test; 81 medical restriction; and 1 medical isolation. On May 28, there were: 30 recoveries; 98 positive tests; 556 medical restriction; and 98 medical isolation. There were also 7 TDCJ employees who tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Michael Unit (Palestine area) – On July 30, there were: 7 active cases; 425 recoveries; and 7 offender in medical isolation. There were also 8 active cases among TDCJ employees and 64 recoveries. On June 25, there were: 5 active cases; 425 recoveries; and 9 offenders in medical isolation. There were also 13 active case among TDCJ employees and 50 recoveries. Beginning on April 16, there were: 0 positive tests; 0 medical restriction; and 0 medical isolation. On May 28, there were: 52 recoveries; 287 positive tests; 1,145 medical restriction; and 293 medical isolation. There were also 35 TDCJ employees who tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Powledge Unit (Palestine area) – On July 30, there were: 0 active cases; 3 recoveries; and 0 offenders in medical isolation. There were 7 active cases among TDCJ employees and 2 recoveries. On June 25, there were: 0 active cases; 2 recoveries; and 1 offender in medical isolation. There was also 1 active case among TDCJ employees and 1 recovery. Beginning on April 16, there were: 0 positive tests; 0 medical restriction; and 0 medical isolation. On May 28, there were: 0 recoveries; 0 positive tests; 0 medical restriction; and 0 medical isolation.

Since TDCJ began tracking the pandemic, system wide, 165,899 tests have been administered to offenders. Of those tested, 15,380 offenders have been positive for COVID-19. Of those who tested positive, 11,316 have recovered, 107 have presumably died because of the virus and there are 32 pending autopsies.

For TDCJ employees, 51,878 tests have been administered. Of those tested, 3,326 employees have been positive for COVID-19. Of those who tested positive, 1,972 have recovered and 14 have presumably died because of the virus. 

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

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