Smith County Jail experiencing COVID-19 surge

Smith County reports 75 COVID-19 cases in the inmate population. The cases also extend to the staff. 15 have tested positive and another 18 are quarantined.
Published: Aug. 31, 2021 at 4:13 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 31, 2021 at 8:18 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Smith County Jail has 75 COVID-19 cases among its inmate population.

The cases also extend to the staff in which 15 have tested positive and another 18 are quarantined. This has caused the jail to have a population problem when it comes to inmates, which has them looking for options.

“What compounds that issue is every other agency that normally would accept inmates from out of county is full ,as well, going back to the first COVID event, so we are in dire straits. I don’t what to do next,” said Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith.

Currently, there is a staffing shortage of 45 positions at the jail. Patrol deputies, criminal investigators, and courthouse security are helping fill the vacancies. The Smith County Jail is hoping to make a push before Oct. 1 to fill 45 open positions which they say will help a lot of their problems. They believe a new budget that is to be voted on next week will help in filling those vacancies.

“That is going to give us a big shot in the arm as far as being able to recruit personal,” said Smith.

The Smith County Jail went several months without a positive COVID-19 case, and during that time they started bringing inmates back to Smith County from other county’s jails.

Once positive cases started climbing, the jail was unable to quarantine people. Smith County was able to use Gregg County’s facility for 10 days to help spread inmates out which dropped the number of cases from 115 to 45.

They are currently quarantining incoming inmates before putting them in the general population and are actively trying to get vaccinations for inmates who want to be vaccinated.

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