Why everyone should care about the COVID-19 outbreak at the Bexar Co. Jail

Doctor Ruth Berggren answers your COVID-19 questions.

SAN ANTONIO – The number of COVID-19 cases inside the Bexar County Jail continues to rise.

Sheriff Javier Salazar said Tuesday there are 294 inmates who have tested positive so far, many of which are asymptotic. Every day that number has the potential to grow as more people are brought into the jail.

Some KSAT viewers have asked, “Why should the average person care about COVID-19 cases at the Bexar County Jail?"

The reason? The virus isn’t contained within those jail walls.

According to Doctor Ruth Berggren with UT Health and the city’s transition team, there are normally between 50 to 80 people per day detained at the jail. About the same number of inmates get released every day after serving their time, making bail, etc. This poses the risk of someone leaving the jail with the virus, not showing symptoms and exposing others in the community.

‘The numbers are scary’: Bexar County sheriff announces latest COVID-19 jail numbers, efforts to contain spread

But it’s not just inmates who are exposed, which is another reason Dr. Berggren says people should be concerned about stopping the spread at the jail.

“The jail is not a static place. The jail is a highly dynamic place. It’s mobile and it’s a place from which the virus can come and spread to the population,” Berggren explains. “Workers who work in the jail, about 550 of them, come from the community. They go into the jail. They go back home.”

According to Sheriff Salazar, 60 detention deputies have also tested positive for the virus. Berggren says the remaining workers are in the process of being tested. These detention deputies are at risk of exposure every day they go to work. When returning home at the end of a shift or picking up groceries on the way, they are putting their families and the public at risk, Berggren said.

“Every time somebody goes out of the jail, they could be bringing the virus to others in the community. So we’re not done yet. And we need to get this contained. And as long as we don’t get it contained, we have the risk of spread," Berggren said.

Watch Dr. Berggren’s full interview on the News at 9 below.

Find more answers and ask your own questions on our SAQ page. Watch anchor Steve Spriester ask local leaders your questions weeknights at 6 p.m. on KSAT12 and 9 p.m. on KSAT-TV and KSAT.com. You can also sign up for our free SAQ newsletter to get answers to the most common questions in your inbox.

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