TDCJ’s Beto Unit in Palestine has 97 confirmed COVID-19 cases among inmates

1 employee at prison has also tested positive

TDCJ’s Beto Unit in Palestine has 97 confirmed COVID-19 cases among inmates
20-year-old Leo Santiago Chavez convicted. (Source: Raycom images)

ANDERSON COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - As of Tuesday, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Beto Unit in Palestine had 97 inmates who have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, according to a TDCJ website.

System-wide, 236 prison inmates have tested positive for the coronavirus, and a total of 97 TDCJ employees have tested positive for COVID-19. A total of 298 TDCJ inmates are in “medical isolation.”

According to the website, offender positive test numbers are based on the individuals’ housing location at the time they were tested and “do not necessarily reflect the offenders’ current location.”

The Beto Unit also has 1,838 inmates on “medical restriction,” which is used to separate and restrict the movements of asymptomatic inmates who make have been exposed to a communicable disease like COVID-19 to see if they start to show symptoms.

At the Beto Unit, 104 inmates have been placed in “medical isolation” on campus or at a hospital. Medical isolation restricts the movements of sick inmates to help stop the spread of disease.

The TDCJ website also said that one employee/contractor at the Beto Unit has tested positive for the COVID virus.

The total number of inmates who have tested positive for COVID-19 at the other TDCJ units in East Texas include:

  • Coffield Unit (Palestine area) - 0
  • Eastham Unit (Lovelady) - 0
  • Lewis Unit (Woodville) - 0
  • Michael Unit (Palestine area) - 0
  • Polunsky Unit (Livingston) - 0
  • Powledge Unit (Palestine) - 0

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases at the Beto Unit has spiked since April 6. At that point, six inmates had tested positive for the coronavirus, and eight tests were still pending. Fourteen inmates were being held in medical isolation, and 355 inmates had been placed under medical restriction.

According to a previous report, all of the COVID-19 testing for the Beto Unit is provided by the University of Texas Medical Branch, and the results are provided within 12 to 36 hours.

Any medical or correctional staff in contact with inmates in isolation are wearing full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Contact investigations are performed on anyone being tested.

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