The novel coronavirus has made its way into the Guadalupe County Jail.
Three inmates out of four tested were diagnosed with COVID-19, Guadalupe County Sheriff Arnold Zwicke said. Leadership and staff are keeping an eye on the pandemic and trying to ensure it doesn’t spread any further at the detention facility, Zwicke said.
“We’re checking temperatures of inmates and if they have symptoms — they’re under constant watch. If anyone shows a sign, they’ll go to medical and medical will get them tested,” he said. “If they’re showing symptoms, we’re testing them.”
When inmates come into the jail, Zwicke said, they automatically go to a 14-day quarantine. That happens whether new inmates show signs of the disease or appear healthy, he said. After the quarantine, inmates go into population for their incarceration at the facility.
The wife of an incarcerated man who claims her husband has shown symptoms of the virus said jail officials have been slow to test inmates.
The woman declined to be named for fear of retaliation against her husband.
She said his symptoms began to show late night June 19 and he asked jail staff for help a couple days later when the symptoms were at their worst. Jail staff tested the 37-year-old man for the flu and other illnesses and those tests came back negative, the woman said.
As of Wednesday morning, her husband had yet to be tested for COVID-19, the woman said. She feared the tests would come too late for her husband and other inmates leading to possible mass exposure in the jail.
She has no need to fear, the sheriff said.
Zwicke said his staff tests inmates showing symptoms and follows guidelines and doctors’ recommendations. He said if the woman’s husband needs to have a test, he need only request the medical attention he needs.
“We have a medical unit here at the jail and that goes through the medical unit and the decision is made whether to test or not,” Zwicke said. “Just like some of the employees have been tested for coronavirus and it turns out to be something totally unrelated, which isn’t a bad thing I guess.”
The man will get his test if he needs it, the sheriff said.
He also said that none of his deputies have tested positive for the disease. About 15 have been tested and all were negative.
A few of the jail employees have had the virus, Zwicke said.
Eight jail employees have been tested for COVID-19, five of them tested positive, he said. Four of the five have since recovered and returned to duty while the fifth remains self-isolated away from the jail, Zwicke said.
Employees are not tested at the jail but sent to their primary care physicians, hospitals, clinics or wherever they need to go for a test, he said. His office’s response to the pandemic has turned up a small number of positive cases, Zwicke said.
“We visit with the state everyday … we’re in constant contact and doing what they’re recommending,” the sheriff said. “So far, we’ve been able to keep the numbers down low compared to some of the other jails.
“I guess we’ve been lucky.”