WATCH: Bexar County Sheriff gives update on COVID-19 at jail

Salazar said he believes Bexar Co. jail only one in Texas testing all inmates for new coronavirus

SAN ANTONIO – Even with the number of COVID-19 positive inmates continuing to grow, Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said Tuesday that he thinks his staff is doing a good job mitigating the new coronavirus at the jail.

Salazar and Deputy Chief Roland Schuler provided an update on COVID-19 mitigation efforts at the Bexar County Jail on Tuesday over a Zoom conference call with media members.

Salazar said he believes the Bexar County Jail is the only jail in Texas testing all inmates. So far, about a third of the inmates have been tested.

Here are the latest statistics as of Tuesday morning with more than 800 of 3,100 inmates tested:

  • 227 inmates in custody are known to be positive for COVID-19
  • 18 inmates in the recovery unit
  • 15 inmates were released back into community with positive COVID-19 test or with pending results that later came back positive
  • 46 inmates have recovered from COVID-19
  • No inmates are currently hospitalized
  • Only 3 female inmates have tested positive for COVID-19

Just like in last week’s update, Salazar said he still believes that the reason the COVID-19 positive numbers have been high at the jail is because all of the inmates are being tested.

Salazar said of the inmates who have tested positive, more are asymptomatic -- meaning they’re not showing signs of illness -- than symptomatic. He said if everyone in the community were tested for COVID-19, he believes the results would be about the same.

“Go into any of these establishments that are open and you’d find similar results," Salazar said.

Salazar said temperature checks are not an accurate gauge because many of his COVID-19 positive inmates don’t have a fever.

“There’s not a 100% way to tell based on someone’s outward appearance,” he said. “That’s why we’re testing everyone.”

Salazar said most of his detention deputies have been tested, and said there are 40 active cases of COVID-19 among deputies, and 23 deputies recovered. One deputy died of complications from the illness. A deputy who was in the ICU last week is home now, but still on oxygen.

Salazar said all of the inmates and deputies are given new masks to wear every day. The jail has more than 180,000 surgical and N95 masks in its current supplies and is getting regular orders in.

As for how COVID-19 got into the jail in the first place, Schuler said that’s like finding a “needle in a haystack.”

“It could have been anyone. We did mitigation efforts very early, quite frankly, before the CDC recommendations came out,” Schuler said.

Salazar and Schuler said the jail is still going beyond CDC recommendations when it comes to cleaning, personal protection equipment and contact tracing.

They said they expect many of the new protocols that have been put into place during the pandemic will stay.

“A lot of this is our new normal,” Salazar said.

Watch Salazar and Schuler’s full briefing in the video player above.

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