Latest round of testing yields 13 positive COVID-19 cases at Smith County Jail

East Texas News at 6.
Updated: May. 26, 2020 at 11:53 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Sheriff Larry Smith said the latest round of testing at the Smith County Jail has resulted in 13 more positive cases of COVID-19.

“We’ve tested everyone at the central and the north jail, as well as the employees,” said Smith. “We’ve only gotten a little over 100 test results back and those are all from the north jail.”

Smith said during commissioners court on Tuesday that results for 118 jailers and inmates at the central jail were returned Monday.

“12 inmates tested positive and were asymptomatic,” said Smith. “One detention officer tested positive and they were asymptomatic, as well.”

Smith said he is waiting on results from the downtown jail.

He said he was hoping for quicker results so that his staff can help slow the spread by limiting interactions for inmates who test positive.

“Absolutely they’ve been around other people,” said Smith. “The more timely we can get the results back, the better we can manage this thing we’ve got going on here.”

Smith said it’s not easy to completely social distance inside the jail where officers are required, by law, to check on prisoners in person.

“All those people that you find out later that test positive, then you have to track down where they’ve been,” said Smith. “We’ve been keeping them all in the same cells but we have detention officers that have to, by jail standards, they have to enter the cells and we’re doing the best we can to keep it transmitting from other areas but it’s difficult to do without timely testing.”

Smith said now that the number of positive cases is growing, they’ll be sectioning off part of the north jail to house inmates with COVID-19 to keep the virus from spreading.

Previously inmates who tested positive were being housed in Gregg County. Those inmates will now return to the north jail.

Copyright 2020 KLTV. All rights reserved.