Number of COVID-19 inmates changing at Beto Unit in Anderson County

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—– MONDAY, MAY 4 —–

May 4

ANDERSON COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – On Monday, the number of prison staff in Texas who tested positive for COVID-19 increased to 461 with 406 still awaiting results, according to the TDCJ website.

The Beto Unit cases changed once again with 61 inmates testing positive for COVID-19. That is over a 60 case decrease from last week. Currently, there are 19 pending tests.

A breakdown of each unit has been given, and the number of staff members in Beto also changed from last week where it was 35 to 20 on Monday.

May 4

Of the more than 3,000 offenders in the prison, here is the breakdown of restrictions and results:

  • Positive Tests – 61
  • Medical Restriction – 2675
  • Medial Isolation – 80
  • Negative Tests – 46
  • Pending Tests – 19

—– WEDNESDAY, APRIL 29 —–

April 29

ANDERSON COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – On Tuesday, the number of prison staff in Texas who tested positive for COVID-19 increased to 381 with 312 still awaiting results, according to the TDCJ website.

The Beto Unit cases decreased by one to 125 inmates with COVID-19. Currently, there are 22 pending tests.

A breakdown of each unit has been given, and the number of staff members who tested positive for COVID-19 nearly doubled to 35. That makes them the third highest in the state with employees who have contracted COVID-19. Wynne leads with 47 and Telford in Texarkana has 39 employees with the coronavirus.

April 29

Of the more than 3,000 offenders in the prison, here is the breakdown of restrictions and results:

  • Positive Tests – 125
  • Medical Restriction – 2741
  • Medial Isolation – 147
  • Negative Tests – 39
  • Pending Tests – 22

—– TUESDAY, APRIL 28 —–

April 28

ANDERSON COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – On Tuesday, the number of prison staff in Texas who tested positive for COVID-19 increased to 350 with 276 still awaiting results, according to the TDCJ website.

The Beto Unit cases decreased by one to 121 inmates with COVID-19. Currently there are 23 pending tests.

In Texas, the number of recovered increased to 156 with 12 having died which were two inmates serving at the Wynne unit, one of which was an inmate serving a life sentence out of Smith County.

A breakdown of each unit has been given, and the number of staff members in Beto stayed the same at 18.

April 28

Of the more than 3,000 offenders in the prison, here is the breakdown of restrictions and results:

  • Positive Tests – 121
  • Medical Restriction – 2743
  • Medial Isolation – 151
  • Negative Tests – 37
  • Pending Tests – 23

—- MONDAY, APRIL 27 —–

April 27

ANDERSON COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – On Monday, the number of prison staff in Texas who tested positive for COVID-19 increased to 325 with 276 awaiting results, according to the TDCJ website.

The Beto Unit cases decreased to 122 inmates with COVID-19. Currently there are 17 pending tests.

In Texas, 97 prisoners have recovered with 10 having died.

A breakdown of each unit has been given, and the number of staff members in Beto who tested positive increased to 18.

April 27

Of the more than 3,000 offenders in the prison, here is the breakdown of restrictions and results:

  • Positive Tests – 122
  • Medical Restriction – 2564
  • Medial Isolation – 151
  • Negative Tests – 37
  • Pending Tests – 17

—– SUNDAY, APRIL 26 ——

April 26

ANDERSON COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – On Sunday, the number of prison staff in Texas who tested positive for COVID-19 increased to 294 with 274 people awaiting results, according to the TDCJ website.

The Beto Unit cases increased slighlty to 134 positive inmates with COVID-19. Currently there are 17 pending tests.

In Texas, 47 prisoners have recovered with 10 having died.

A breakdown of each unit has been given, and the number of staff members in Beto who test positive have stayed the same.

April 26

Of the more than 3,000 offenders in the prison, here is the breakdown of restrictions and results:

  • Positive Tests – 134
  • Medical Restriction – 2564
  • Medial Isolation – 151
  • Negative Tests – 36
  • Pending Tests – 17

—– THURSDAY, APRIL 23 ——

ANDERSON COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – On Thursday, the number of prison staff in Texas who tested positive for COVID-19 increased slighly to 265 with 254 people awaiting results, according to the TDCJ website.

April 23

The Beto Unit cases jumped dramatically to 128 positive inmates with COVID-19. Currently there are 14 pending tests which makes up for the increase in cases.

In Texas, 47 prisoners have recovered and seven have died.

A breakdown of each unit has been given, and the number of staff members in Beto who test positive continues to climb as three more have COVID-19.

April 23

Of the more than 3,000 offenders in the prison, here is the breakdown of restrictions and results:

  • Positive Tests – 128
  • Medical Restriction – 2557
  • Medial Isolation – 1342
  • Negative Tests – 36
  • Pending Tests – 14

—– WEDNESDAY, APRIL 22 ——

April 22

ANDERSON COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – On Wednesday, the number of prison staff in Texas who tested positive for COVID-19 increased slightly to 252 with 258 people awaiting results, according to the TDCJ website.

The Beto Unit cases increased by two cases up to 92 positive inmates with COVID-19. Currently, there are 37 pending cases which is a decrease of two.

A break down of each unit has been given, and the number of cases for staff members in the Beto unit increased to 12.

April 22

Of the more than 3,000 offenders in the prison, here is the breakdown of restrictions and results:

  • Positive Tests – 96
  • Medical Restriction – 2558
  • Medial Isolation – 133
  • Negative Tests – 35
  • Pending Tests – 37

—– TUESDAY, APRIL 21 —–

April 21

ANDERSON COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – On Tuesday, the number of prison staff in Texas who tested positive for COVID-19 increased to 230 with 264 people awaiting results, according to the TDCJ website.

The Beto Unit cases increased slightly from Monday to 94 positive cases. Currently, there are 39 pending cases, which is an increase of 14.

The drop in cases from triple digits down to 74 over the weekend was the cause of inmates being transferred to another unit away from East Texas.

Anderson County Judge Robert Johnston said the reasoning behind the effort is to prevent additional employees and inmates from getting the coronavirus.

However, that’s left many wondering if the spread could have been avoided if protective measures were taken sooner. TDCJ implemented protective measures for staff and inmates after six cases were reported at the Beto Unit.

A break down of each unit has been given, and the number of cases for staff members in the Beto unit increased from five to 10.

April 21

State Rep. Cody Harris who represents Anderson County points to the actions that could have been taken before the very first case.

“State agencies are usually slow to respond to things and they are looking at 140 units across the whole state. Unfortunately, it wasn’t fast enough to contain the spread,” he said.

During a city council meeting Monday, Palestine officials expressed their frustration wanting to keep those working inside the facility safe.

Rep. Harris says his focus is on testing to make sure employees have the option to be tested at work and to contact him directly if they are having problems getting personal protective equipment.

Of the more than 3,000 offenders in the prison, here is the breakdown of restrictions and results:

  • Positive Tests – 94
  • Medical Restriction – 2444
  • Medial Isolation – 133
  • Negative Tests – 34
  • Pending Tests – 39

—– MONDAY, APRIL 20 ——

April 20

ANDERSON, Texas (KETK) – On Monday, the number of prison staff in Texas who tested positive for COVID-19 increased to 215 with 282 people awaiting results, according to the TDCJ website.

The Beto Unit cases decreased significantly over the weekend but increased on Monday to 74 positive cases. Currently, there are 25 pending tests with even more in medial isolation who are exhibiting symptoms.

A break down of each unit has been given, and the number of cases for staff members in the Beto unit increased from three to five.

April 20

Of the more than 3,000 offenders in the prison, here is the breakdown of restrictions and results:

  • Positive Tests – 74
  • Medical Restriction – 2500
  • Medial Isolation – 99
  • Negative Tests – 30
  • Pending Tests – 25

—- SUNDAY, APRIL 19 —–

April 1

ANDERSON COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – On Sunday, the number of cases for prison staff in Texas increased. 183 individuals tested positive with 288 people awaiting results, according to the TDCJ website.

A break down of each unit has been given, and the number of cases for staff members in the Beto unit has gone from one to three.

April 19

The Beto Unit returned 26 positive tests, which decreased immensely from the 118 positive tests on Thursday. However, there were only 15 negative tests rather than more if staff were to retest the inmates and show that most had recovered.

The TDCJ website released the following statement on its website:

Please note: As of today pending, positive, and negative offender test numbers reflect the current physical location of the offender.

Of the more than 3,000 offenders in the prison, here is the breakdown of restrictions and results:

  • Positive Tests – 26
  • Medical Restriction – 2500
  • Medial Isolation – 80
  • Negative Tests – 15
  • Pending Tests – 54

—– THURSDAY, APRIL 16 ——

April 16

ANDERSON COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – With over 200 COVID-19 tests pending for prison staff in Texas, 21 more people have tested positive since Wednesday, according to the TDCJ website. However, there are still 259 tests awaiting results.

TDCJ has broken down the employee test results by unit, which only includes one positive case for the Beto Unit in Anderson County.

April 16

On Thursday, the Beto Unit returned 118 positive tests, which is an increase of 12 from Wednesday.

Of the more than 3,000 offenders in the prison, here is the breakdown of restrictions and results:

  • Positive Test – 118
  • Medical Restriction – 2346
  • Medical Isolation – 118
  • Negative Tests – 15
  • Pending Tests – 0

—–WEDNESDAY, APRIL 15 —–

ANDERSON COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – The number of inmates and workers who test positive for COVID-19 at the Beto Unit continues to rise as more tests are returning results.

On Wednesday, 137 staff across Texas tested positive for the coronavirus with 275 tests still pending.

Correctional officers tell KETK News they are terrified and concerned about the lack of safety and protection. This led to a union leaders meeting.

The Texas AFL-CIO held a zoom video call on Facebook speaking to thousands who joined online.

Public health officials say employees should wear safety gear when interacting with prisoners even if offenders are not showing symptoms.

With face masks and gloves becoming a priority across, workers inside these units are looking for clear answers on how to avoid contracting the virus.

“I feel like we should have been given the option to wear masks, and things of that nature. I requested that we be allowed to wear those, but I was told that at this time TDC was not going to do that because the CDC had not approved that,” said Sarah Ruzicka, employee at Lane Murray Prison.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice announced any employee that works with a temperature over 100.4 will not be allowed in the unit, will be questioned, and required to see a doctor before returning.

While employees are of high concern, the number of inmate cases continues to rise. In the Anderson County Beto Unit, 106 inmates returned positive results compared to 97 on Tuesday.

—–TUESDAY, APRIL 14 —–

ANDERSON COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – The number of inmates with COVID-19 in Texas prisons has escalated in the last week.

On April 9, the Beto Unit in Anderson County had 23 coronavirus cases. Since then, that number has more than quadrupled to 97 with tests still pending.

While those behind bars are worried, their loved ones back home are concered of the outcome.

“I don’t feel like they are safe, and I don’t feel like they are taking healthy precautions during this serious time,” said Sarah Holder, wife of an inmate.

Her husband has been charged with murder and is just two years away from parol.

“He is a human and we love and we care about him, and we’re not asking for a get out of jail free card , but they are just as important as we are,” she said.

Holder claims there is a lack of nutrition, sanitary procedures, and care in the system.

“It went from like six to 72 in a matter of days and that concerns me,” said Holder. “They are not being given the proper supplies to protect themselves to disinfect their areas where they are sleeping.”

While family members fear for the worst, those working inside the prisons are also concerned.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice is reporting 97 employees have tested positive for COVID-19 across the state as of Tuesday.

“It’s everywhere, so naturally we are concerned about them contracting it on the job and it not being presumptive that they got it there,” said Charley Wilkinson, the Executive Director of Correctional Officers Association of Texas.

Wilkinson says one of the biggest changes he would like to see is more personal protective equipment for staff.

“We’re getting mixed signals as far as some has those things, some folks are buying them themselves and other places they are just not available,” he said.

For several days, the Beto Unit has been under precautionary lockdown due to the increase in cases. Certain prisoners have been confined to their cell while others are separated in a different part of the prison if they are symptomatic. Inmates also have their temperatures taken twice a day as a precaution.

  • Medical Restriction is used to separate and restrict the movement of well people who may have been exposed to a disease to see if they become ill.
  • Medical Isolation is for people who are sick and contagious.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice says 1,838 inmates are in medical restriction while 104 inmates are in medical isolation.

—– THURSDAY, APRIL 9 —–

ANDERSON COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – The number of inmates found positive for COVID-19 in an Anderson County prison has more than tripled since Wednesday.

At The George Beto Unit, 23 inmates have tested positive with 46 in isolation after showing symptoms. More than 3,000 offenders are located at the Beto Unit and are under medical restriction to prevent the crisis from becoming worse.

  • Medical Restriction is used to separate and restrict the movement of well people who may have been exposed to a disease to see if they become ill.
  • Medical Isolation is for people who are sick and contagious.

While 23 prisoners have tested positive in the prison, only two coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Anderson County.

KETK asked the Anderson County Judge what qualifications make a case, and he said inmates are only considered part of the count if they are an Anderson County resident.

“His home county, if he gets COVID-19 in Anderson county at one of the units here, his home county is the one that’s going to get the record for it,” said Judge Robert Johnston.

To help combat the coronavirus in the Beto Unit, prisoners are confined to their cells and temperatures are taken twice a day by medical professionals.

For those who are showing symptoms, they are isolated in a different part of the prison away from healthy inmates. If they stop showing symptoms for 14 days, they are then allowed to return to their cells.

“If someone has a pending test or a positive test, they are in a situation that’s called medical isolation, those folks, whether they are actually still at the Beto Unit or they are potentially at a hospital setting they are isolated in a single cell or single area. Anyone in contact with them is wearing full PPE,” said Jeremy Desel, with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Palestine Mayor Steve Presley said that changes need to be made inside the prison to prevent further spread.

“The only way for this type of virus to get inside a prison is if it’s brought inside the prison, and of course the most likely way that that would happen is from a correctional officer or other person coming into the facility,” said Desel.

To further reduce the spread of COVID-19, visitation has been suspended until further notice and everyone entering the facility will have their temperature recorded.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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