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Monitoring and Procedures for COVID-19

April 1, 2020

COVID-19 TDCJ Update

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) is constantly receiving updated information regarding testing and results of offenders, agency and contract employees as well as medical partners. Today there have been four new cases confirmed Three employees and one offender.

  • A Correctional Officer at the Jordan Unit in Pampa has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. The 34-year-old worked at the facility on Friday March 27, 2020 and was sent home after entry screening showed a 101.2 temperature. The officer was seen by a doctor and tested on March 28th. The officer is at home in good condition in self-quarantine.

  • A Correctional Officer at the Stringfellow Unit in Rosharon has tested positive for COVID-19. The 52-year-old last worked Thursday March 19, 2020. The officer was admitted to a hospital and tested on March 20, 2020. The officer has been discharged from the hospital and is recovering in self-quarantine at home.

  • A Laundry Supervisor at the Murray Unit in Gatesville has tested positive. The employee was tested by a physician on Monday, March 30, 2020 and remains in self-quarantine.

  • An offender at the Stringfellow Unit has tested positive for COVID-19. The offender was taken to an outside hospital yesterday suffering from respiratory distress. The offender was tested at the hospital and placed in medical isolation. The test returned positive today and the offender remains hospitalized in good condition.

In all there have been 13 TDCJ employees, staff or contractors and three offenders in custody who have tested positive for COVID-19.

The agency is taking appropriate action to mitigate the potential exposure to others including following the Centers for Disease Control guidelines for management of COVID-19 in correctional facilities. As TDCJ learns of new positive tests, contact investigations are being conducted to determine which individuals may have been exposed to the virus.




March 31, 2020

COVID-19 TDCJ Update

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) is constantly receiving updated information regarding testing and results of offenders, agency and contract employees as well as medical partners. The agency is taking appropriate action to mitigate the potential exposure to others. There are no new positive cases and two total in TDCJ offenders.

  • A Correctional Officer at the Henley State Jail in Dayton has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. The 61-year-old worked at the facility on Sunday March 22, 2020. The officer is at home in good condition in self-quarantine.

  • A Parole Unit Supervisor working in the Houston Parole Office has tested positive for COVID-19. The 43-year-old Sugarland resident was last in the office on Friday March 20, 2020. The officer is in self-quarantine and is recovering.

  • A Physician employed by the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) has tested positive. The doctor was last at work on Monday, March 16, 2020 at the Skyview Unit. This person is not believed to have had any contact which would impact TDCJ.

The agency is following the Centers for Disease Control guidelines for management of COVID-19 in correctional facilities. As TDCJ learns of new positive tests, contact investigations are being conducted to determine which individuals may have been exposed to the virus.

Medical restriction and medical isolation are two ways that TCDJ is managing the potential of COVID-19 in the prison population. Dr. Lannette Linthicum is the Director of the TDCJ Health Services Division. In this Q & A she explains how the protocol which is based on CDC guidelines works.




March 30, 2020

COVID-19 TDCJ Update

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) is constantly receiving updated information regarding testing and results of offenders, agency and contract employees as well as medical partners. The agency is taking appropriate action to mitigate the potential exposure to others.

  • An offender at the Goree Unit in Huntsville has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. The 36-year-old went to Huntsville Memorial Hospital on March 12th for an unrelated ailment and returned to Goree on March 20th. On March 27th the offender started feeling ill with COVID-19 type symptoms and was placed in medical isolation. The test happened Saturday March 28 and came back positive today. The offender remains in medical isolation and is in good condition.

  • Two employees of the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole have tested positive for COVID-19. Other employees at the Huntsville Institutional Parole Office of the BPP are in at home self-quarantine. That office is not on a prison unit. In total there are now seven staff/contractors/state employees who are connected to TDCJ that have tested positive.

TDCJ is following the Centers for Disease Control guidelines for management of COVID-19 in correctional facilities. As the agency learns of new positive tests, contact investigations are being conducted to determine which individuals may have been exposed to the virus.




March 28, 2020

COVID-19 TDCJ Update

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) continues to receive information regarding test results of offenders, agency and contract employees and medical partners. As these results are received and confirmed, the agency is taking appropriate action to mitigate the potential exposure to others.

  • A UTMB medical technician who works at Hospital Galveston has tested positive for COVID-19 virus. The individual has not been at work since March 21st.

  • A contract employee of Management and Training Corporation (MTC) who works at the Jester 1 Unit in Richmond has tested positive. The individual has not been at work since March 19th.

  • A correctional officer who works at the Segovia Unit in Edinburg has presumptively tested positive. The officer has not been at work since March 20th.

TDCJ is following the Centers for Disease Control guidelines for management of COVID-19 in correctional facilities. As the agency learns of new positive tests, contact investigations are being conducted to determine which individuals may have been exposed to the virus.

For the latest updates, follow us on our webpage https://www.tdcj.texas.gov/covid-19/index.html.




March 27, 2020

COVID-19 TDCJ Update

There were no additional cases of COVID-19 reported connected to TDCJ yesterday.

The results of contact investigations into the three TDCJ related positive cases in 1 offender, 1 contractor and one staff member have led to 42 employees in self-isolation at home. There are 29 tests that have been performed on offenders resulting in 1 positive test.

All offenders who have a pending test result or a positive test are in medical isolation. Any medical or correctional staff in extended close contact with those offenders are wearing full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Contact investigations are performed on anyone being tested.

As a result of those contact investigations there are offenders who are now in medical restriction. In those cases offender movements are restricted until the 14 day incubation period of the virus is reached. Temperature checks are performed at least twice a day per TDCJ protocol and CDC guidance. Staff in close contact with those offenders are using mask and glove PPE.




March 25, 2020

COVID-19 TDCJ Update

HUNTSVILLE, TX

A Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) unit staff member at the Holliday Unit in Huntsville notified the agency today of a positive test for COVID-19.

The 38-year-old is not a correctional officer, but did have possible contact with others. The agency is now conducting a full contact investigation. The employee left work early on March 19th not feeling well, went to a doctor on March 23rd and was subsequently tested. The results came back today. The employee is in self-quarantine and is in good condition.

Any staff who are found to have been in close contact with the employee will be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days. The contact investigation extends to offenders as well. Any offender found to have been in close contact with the staff member will be medically restricted.

A contact investigation is also being conducted after a report of a positive case for an offender at the Dallas County Jail. In that case, a 48-year-old offender who was feeling ill was taken to Parkland Hospital in Dallas, and the positive test returned today. Intake from Dallas County has been temporarily suspended until the investigation can be completed, and more information is available regarding the affected area.




March 24, 2020

TDCJ Offender in Hospital Galveston tests positive for COVID-19

HUNTSVILLE, TX

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) is treating an offender who has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. The 37-year-old offender is currently medically isolated and being treated at Hospital Galveston where he has been for 3 days. He came into TDCJ custody on February 27th from Harris County where he had been convicted on two drug possession charges.

In the early morning hours of March 21, 2020, the offender reported he was suffering from shortness of breath and a cough while in custody at the Lychner State Jail. He was immediately evaluated in the medical facility there and transported to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston. After evaluation and treatment, the offender was transferred to Hospital Galveston where he was tested for the COVID-19 virus. Due to the nature of his symptoms and a pre-existing respiratory condition, he was treated following the coronavirus disease 2019 infectious disease protocol. TDCJ is also following the Centers for Disease Control guidelines for management of COVID-19 in Correctional facilities.

Under those protocols medical professionals from our partners at UTMB, are taking precautions including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). The offender is currently in good condition.

Other offenders and staff who may have had contact with the individual who has tested positive are now being medically restricted per disease protocol which includes limiting their movement.

The initial investigation suggests there are no additional symptomatic offenders at the Lychner State Jail. The contact investigation concerning staff is on-going.

“TDCJ is saddened to learn of this positive case in an offender but the agency is well prepared to handle this challenge,” said Bryan Collier TDCJ’s Executive Director. “Our coronavirus protocol was developed exactly for a situation like this. Our prayers are with the offender and his family as he recovers from this illness.”

The mission of TDCJ is to provide public safety, promote positive change in offender behavior, reintegrate offenders into society, and assist the victims of crime. We will continue to meet that mission.




March 23, 2020

Contract Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) has learned of an employee of Management and Training Corporation (MTC) who has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. The employee is a substance abuse counselor. On March 17, 2020, he passed all unit entry screening and attended a training session with other MTC employees. He also had cell side counseling visits with a limited number of restricted housing offenders at the Jester 1 Unit in Richmond, TX. The employee went home early on the 17th and saw a doctor who issued him a clear to work note.

The employee returned to work on Saturday March 21, 2020, and saw additional offenders in restrictive housing. Offenders were behind a secure door, so there was no physical contact.

The employee did not know he had been tested for COVID-19, but received a call from his doctor Sunday afternoon with results of a positive test and an order to self-quarantine. The TDCJ received the lab results Monday morning.

No one in contact with the counselor are symptomatic at this time. The MTC employees who were in the training session on the 17th are not at work and are in self-quarantine. The offenders who had limited contact with the employee are all restrictive housing offenders who had limited contact through hard cell doors with the counselor.

“TDCJ and our university partners are prepared to treat and manage COVID-19 cases as outlined in the coronavirus disease 2019 infectious disease policy,” said Dr. Lannette Linthicum, TDCJ’s Health Services Director. “Any offenders who had any possible contact with the counselor are being closely monitored by medical staff,” Linthicum continued.

The mission of TDCJ is to provide public safety, promote positive change in offender behavior, reintegrate offenders into society, and assist the victims of crime. We will continue to meet that mission.




March 20, 2020

There are no positive tests for COVID-19 in or connected to any TDCJ facility or individual.

Governor Abbott has approved the temporary suspension of medical co-pay for offenders needing health care services related to COVID-19.

Offender Telephone Services are expanded.

Tornado damage being repaired and power restored.

TDCJ is expanding its testing to continue to keep COVID-19 out of our 104 prison units.

Incoming offenders arriving at our 24 intake facilities are now being screened for fevers. Anyone with a 100.4 temperature or higher will be medically isolated and treated following our contagious disease protocol.

Employees and staff had already been being temperature screened before entry to the units. Anyone with a fever of 100.4 or higher would be denied entrance.

All visitation is still suspended.

The offender family hotline is open from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. to assist family and friends who may have questions regarding COVID-19.

1-844-476-1289 (in-state calls only)

1-936-437-4927 (out-of-state calls)




March 17, 2020

TDCJ is expanding its testing to continue to keep COVID-19 out of our 104 prison units.

Incoming offenders arriving at our 24 intake facilities are now being screened for fevers. Anyone with a 100.4 temperature or higher will be medically isolated and treated following our contagious disease protocol.

Employees and staff had already been being temperature screened before entry to the units. Anyone with a fever of 100.4 or higher would be denied entrance.

All visitation is still suspended.

The offender family hotline is open from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. to assist family and friends who may have questions regarding COVID-19.

1-844-476-1289 (in-state calls only)

1-936-437-4927 (out-of-state calls)

There are no reported cases or signs of Coronavirus at any TDCJ facilities. TDCJ is actively working to keep COVID-19 out. All visitation has been suspended. We are making changes to employee screenings at prison units starting now.




March 16, 2020

There are no reported cases or signs of Coronavirus at any TDCJ facilities. TDCJ is actively working to keep COVID-19 out. All visitation has been suspended. We are making changes to employee screenings at prison units starting now.




March 11, 2020:  Monitoring and Procedures for COVID-19

There is no indication of the coronavirus within TDCJ facilities or among its employees.


Procedures Implemented in Response to COVID-19
March 11, 2020

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) remains in continuous communication with the Center for Disease Control, the Texas Division of Emergency Management, the Texas Department of State Health Services, and its university healthcare providers to monitor developments associated with the spread of COVID-19. To ensure the health and safety of employees and offenders, the agency is implementing the following steps to prevent and mitigate the spread of the virus:

Travel:

  • Staff should limit any unnecessary domestic traveling.
  • Agency travel should be limited unless it is an absolute necessity.
  • Any international travel must be approved by the employee’s division director, and if approved, the employee may be required to delay their return to work.

Illnesses:

  • If an employee feels ill or is running a fever, they are advised to stay home.
  • If an employee begins to feel ill at work, and they are assigned to an area where the Coronavirus has been confirmed, they will be required to complete the TDCJ COVID-19 Screening.
  • Based on the completion of the Screening, if an employee appears to be ill, they will be sent home and will be required to submit a physician’s note stating the employee is clear of any symptoms of COVID-19 upon returning to work.

Visitation:

  • March 13, 2020:  In accordance with Governor Abbott’s declaration, effective today, the TDCJ will be temporarily suspending visitation at all our facilities (statewide) until further notice. While we understand the value and significance of the visitation process at our facilities, we also understand the importance of providing and maintaining a safe and healthy environment for all involved. For continued updates, please refer to our agency website.

Sanitation:

  • ALL staff are reminded to take proper housekeeping/cleaning steps both in their personal office space as well as their total work environments.
  • Staff are asked to use good hygiene practices, frequently wash hands thoroughly, and refrain from touching their eyes, nose, and mouth.

The agency will continue monitoring the situation for as long as necessary and will provide additional communication if there are any new developments.

Ongoing Monitoring Initiatives:

In addition to the procedures being implemented above, the agency has a confirmed supply of personal protective equipment, and has made arrangements to receive additional protective equipment as needed.

The TDCJ has policies and protocols in place to prevent the spread of all infectious disease.

https://www.tdcj.texas.gov/divisions/cmhc/infection_control_policy_manual.html

Other protocols, as necessary, will include:

  • Temporary suspension of visitation (check the TDCJ webpage prior to visiting)
  • Suspending offender movements
  • Disinfecting visitation areas
  • Regular cleaning of all areas of the unit using a 10% bleach solution



  Link to TDCJ Action Center. Link to TDCJ Frequently Asked Questions. Link to TDCJ Previous Updates. Link to the Texas Department of State Health Services Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Link to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Coronavirus (COVID-19) information. Link to the World Health Organization Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Pandemic information.


Helpful Links:

Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) - News Updates COVID-19
Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) - Texas Case Counts Map
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)- Coronavirus (COVID-19)
CDC Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) - World Map
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