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County jail COVID-19 cases have dropped significantly

There is good news for the prisoners and staff who live and work at the Hidalgo County jail: the incidence of COVID-19 is down significantly. Recently, Hidalgo County Sheriff “Eddie” Guerra spoke with The Advance, and you could hear some relief in his voice while talking about today’s COVID numbers inside his jail vs. how it was this summer. “Well, thank God we have not suffered too many cases of COVID in our jail like some of the other county jails and state prisons have,” he said. “We’ve been able to manage it. Our highest active case count was back on July 31 st when we had 91 active cases.” To put that in perspective, Hidalgo County Jail has a total of 1,232 beds. At any given time, the jail might have approximately 1,100, according to Guerra. “They’re never all full,” he said. So, 91 positive COVID-19 cases on July 31 st , but today, said Guerra (Aug. 31), “we only have nine confirmed cases inside the jail.” The jail staffing is an obvious consideration, said Guerra, and there is relatively good news to report on that front as well. “The highest number on the staff side was 63 out of 826 employees who tested positive for COVID,” said the sheriff. “That was back on July 14th. We’ll be in single digits by tomorrow (first of September). That 826 number includes detention officers, peace officers, communications personnel, mechanics….and then all of my commissary support staff.” Those relatively low numbers also equate to good news for the Hidalgo County community as well, based on information distributed by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Preventing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in correctional and detention facilities can be challenging because of population-dense housing, varied access to hygiene facilities and supplies, and limited space for isolation and quarantine. Incarcerated and detained populations have a high prevalence of chronic diseases, increasing their risk for severe COVID-19–associated illness and making early detection critical. Correctional and detention facilities are not closed systems; SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can be transmitted to and from the surrounding community through staff members and visitor movements as well as entry, transfer, and release of incarcerated and detained persons.” Meaning, maintaining a jail relatively free of COVID spells good news for the county in which it’s located. According to Eddie Guerra, a lot of work went into mitigating the spread of this new virus. “First of all, we were able ...

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