Five inmates at the Dallas County Jail have now tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
That news came late Wednesday, hours after Dallas County Sheriff Marian Brown announced the jail’s first positive COVID-19 case.
The first case was a man in his 40s, who’d been in custody since December. That means he likely contracted the disease from another person in the jail.
Fifty-one people were locked in the same housing unit – four who showed symptoms of COVID-19 were quarantined and later tested positive. Others are now being tested.
Wednesday night, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins sought to reassure people with family members in the county jail.
“We prepared for this eventuality weeks ago,” he told reporters. “And your family members -- those who are sick -- are receiving excellent care. And those who are not sick are receiving good separation.”
Jenkins says those known to be exposed to the respiratory virus have been separated from the other nearly 6,000 inmates.
Social justice organizations have been raising concerns about the potential for an outbreak in the jail, and called for the release of vulnerable inmates. National data shows jail populations have higher rates of chronic health conditions, putting them at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19.
Updated 9 p.m.