Number of prisoners with COVID-19 rising fast at Beto Unit in Anderson County

Local News

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.

  • 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.

The first Texas inmate to die from COVID-19 happened just three hours away in Texarkana and now officials are looking at taking extra safety precautions.

To protect staff, cotton masks are being distributed to employees which they are required to wear inside the facility and are optional in the field.

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.

While 23 inmates have tested positive, 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.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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