Three staff members and one inmate in the Collin County Jail have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a June 17 press release from Collin County Sheriff’s Office. 

This is the first positive test in the Collin County Detention Facility. 

“The novel coronavirus and COVID-19 are unfortunately still with us” Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner told Local Profile. “The Governor renewed his disaster declaration on June 11, and although we have more testing, we do not have a vaccine or a cure. I’m grateful for the great work and cooperation by our partners in the criminal-justice system to help control the risks. But we still need this cooperation. And I continue to ask our law-enforcement partners to exercise caution and discretion—consistent with public safety—in arresting persons and transporting them to the county jail.”

It’s unclear when the Sheriff’s Office received word about the positive testing or how long the staff and inmate were exhibiting symptoms prior to testing. The Sheriff’s Office pointed out in the press release that they contacted County Health and, in turn, quickly implemented steps set forth by the CDC to contain it. They are currently testing additional staff. 

The inmate, on the other hand, is spending time in isolation. 

In the press release, the Sheriff’s Office indicated that it is working with Wellpath, the contractor medical provider for the Collin County jail, to increase monitoring of the jail population, which includes randomly testing inmates. 

The news comes after several reports about COVID-19 spreading like a grass fire through county jails and prisons across Texas. At his press conference Tuesday, Gov. Gregg Abbott mentioned that the prisons in Jefferson County contributed to the massive increase in positive COVID-19 cases on June 10, the highest day spike for positive coronavirus cases in Texas. 

“Beaumont averages about 12 to 15 positive cases per day,” Abbott explained. “On June 10, however, they had 537 people who tested positive, about 520 of those came from a batch of positive tests that had been aggregated of inmates in a Texas prison and federal prison system that all came back at once. So instead of it spread out over a number of days, it elevated one single day from 12 to 15 way above 500.” 

The Collin County Sheriff’s Office stressed in the press release that jail staff already screen new incoming inmates, monitor inmates for symptoms, and check their temperatures in the housing area “several times a day”: “The Sheriff’s Office will continue to follow CDC and County Health guidance on these issues, including sanitation and hygiene in the Detention Facility, use of personal protective equipment, remote work where feasible and effective, testing, and return-to-work standards.

Christian McPhate

Christian has been working as a freelance journalist in North Texas for more than a decade. His stories have appeared in the Dallas Observer, the Houston Press, and Rolling Stone magazine. He covers a...