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Bexar County deputy tests positive for coronavirus, BCSO says

BCSO said the deputy did not have any contact with the public prior to being placed on administrative leave.

SAN ANTONIO — COVID-19 has come to the Bexar County Jail. The first positive case involving an employee was confirmed by Sheriff Javier Salazar on Thursday.

Salazar said the 12-year veteran is recovering at home.

“Naturally we're worried about him because he's got not just COVID-19, but pneumonia as well," the sheriff said. "So he's quite ill, but he's at home and our understanding is he is self-monitoring and letting us know if anything changes."

With an average daily headcount of more than 4,000 people, many of whom have medical issues, keeping the jail facility – which is the size of a small city – sanitary is now a critical challenge.

Salazar said the detention deputy did not have a fever at work on Tuesday but fell ill later on and, on Wednesday, received a positive test result for the coronavirus.

“Tuesday morning when he was getting off work, he indicated he wasn't feeling well, but he presented no fever. Later in the day, we're told on his own he went to a hospital and took a test and was sent home and, later that evening, they notified him he was positive,” Salazar said.

Salazar added they have been exceptionally careful, checking the temperatures of employees as they report for duty and as they go home.

“We actually checked his temperature the way we do with all deputies who come to work,” Salazar said.

The deputy, according to officials, is now on administrative leave as BCSO does everything it can to protect those who may have been exposed. The unit where the deputy worked is being fully sanitized. Those who worked closely with the deputy are on leave, even though they say they are not displaying any symptoms of illness, and Salazar said the goal is to get them back to work as soon as possible.

The sheriff added that they're balancing precaution to limit the spread of coronavirus with keeping as many deputies working on any given day. For example, he said that if a deputy is showing symptoms, any other deputies they came into contact with is sent home. But if that first deputy ends up testing negative, the other deputies immediately return to work. 

Salazar said the inmates who may have been exposed will be kept in place and monitored more closely for 14 days.

“The inmates that this officer had any contact with are actually in our lockdown units, where the inmates spend most of their time in a cell," Salazar said. "So there was very little contact between the inmates and this deputy."

As time goes on, BCSO says it will continue to be vigilant.

“We're monitoring them extra. They are staying put where they are. We're not moving them around the facility. They are staying put in those units,” Salazar said.

The sheriff said that, wherever possible, they are utilizing safe distancing, personal protective equipment and more disinfectant.

Salazar said he hopes the deputy who tested positive will stay home and continue to improve until his condition has fully subsided.

No inmates have tested positive at this time, according to Salazar. To keep it that way, everyone who is arrested will be wearing a surgical mask for 14 days.

Additionally, any inmates extradited from other counties will be isolated from the general jail population for 14 days.

Salazar said the Texas Commission on Jail Standards has been notified of the situation.

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