SAN ANTONIO – “The numbers are scary.” Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said he doesn’t believe the number of COVID-19 cases in the jail has peaked yet.
Salazar, who addressed media outlets on Tuesday during a Zoom conference call, said he believes the growing number of deputy and inmate COVID-19 cases are primarily due to proactive testing, which showed that the majority of confirmed cases inside the jail are asymptomatic.
Salazar also said he believes the jail is a microcosm of society and that the number of cases in the community would rise if testing were more widespread.
Salazar acknowledged his sentiment somewhat contradicts those of San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, and a Metro Health official who said Monday that the number of cases in our area is declining.
“I think that if we went into any retail establishment or restaurant in the country, or in the state for that matter, and we tested everybody in there, whether they appeared sick or not, I think the numbers would be staggering of those that are asymptomatic, positive,” Salazar said.
To help slow the spread of the disease within the jail, officials began to release some nonviolent inmates to reduce the population in March.
On Tuesday, Salazar showed reporters the peroxide solution being used to disinfect common areas inside the jail twice a day and mentioned that masks would continue to be a part of deputies’ uniforms.
Rather than focusing on trying to figure out how inmates and deputies contracted COVID-19, Salazar, who has had limited contact with the jail population and has not been tested yet, said he has and will continue working to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the jail.
He said his plan includes constant cleaning and sanitizing, isolating people when necessary and providing testing, primarily to deputies on the front lines and inmates coming into the jail and leaving.
“I would like to know that that person is COVID-19-positive in order to give them what they need to help protect themselves on the way out the door, but more importantly, to protect the community at large. The last thing we want to do is to exacerbate the problems that we're already seeing out in the community,” Salazar said.
BCSO's confirmed number of cases as of Tuesday afternoon include the following:
- A total of 60 detention deputies have tested positive so far.
- A total of 44 deputies are still positive.
- Sixteen deputies have recovered and have returned to work.
- There are 65 negative results for deputies so far.
- There are 460 deputies with pending results.
- Upwards of 500-600 tests have been performed for deputies.
- There are 294 inmates who have tested positive so far, many of which are asymptotic.
- There are 264 inmates who are positive right now.
- Five pregnant inmates are currently positive for COVID-19. They don’t qualify for a personal recognizance bond, and Salazar is trying to get them a lower bond.
- There are 30 inmates who have made a full recovery.
- There are four inmates who are still in the hospital due to COVID-19.
- There have been 830 inmates tested so far.
Anyone in Bexar County can call the COVID-19 hotline at 210-207-5779 for assistance.