SAN ANTONIO – A longtime Bexar County jailer found dead Thursday morning had tested positive for the novel coronavirus the day of his death, Sheriff Javier Salazar confirmed Thursday.
During a press conference, Salazar identified the deputy as Timothy De La Fuente, 53.
De La Fuente, who Salazar said tested positive for COVID-19, is the first deputy in the sheriff’s office to possibly die of the virus.
The deputy, who worked in the jail, did not show symptoms when he was tested on Tuesday, but called in sick on Wednesday and Thursday and was seeking care from a private doctor.
Salazar said before going to the doctor, De La Fuente collapsed in his North Side home.
Metro Health was planning to notify De La Fuente about the positive test result on Thursday, but they could not reach him before he died, Salazar said.
“It’s been a tough day for us here at the sheriff’s office," Salazar said. "We’ve been dealing with this virus for well over a month and this morning it took a turn for the worse for us.”
De La Fuente had underlying medical conditions, but Salazar did not specify them.
De La Fuente had been assigned to a so-called ‘hot spot,’ an ares of the jail that had a lot of COVID-19 cases recently, Salazar said.
The veteran jailer had worked his way back to full-time duty after surviving an attack while working at the jail several years ago, Salazar confirmed.
San Antonio police called the sheriff’s office around 8 a.m. Thursday to notify them of a deceased person call, according to the sheriff’s office.
“Preliminary, it appears that medical complications played a factor, however the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office will determine the exact nature,” according to the sheriff’s office.
Salazar said Thursday he expects cases of COVID-19 inside the jail to "skyrocket’ now that widespread testing is taking place there.