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Texas prisons see more than 38,000% spike in coronavirus cases

The KVUE Defenders reported three offenders in Texas prisons with coronavirus on April 1. One month later, 1,151 inmates have tested positive.

AUSTIN, Texas — An analysis by the KVUE Defenders found cases of coronavirus among Texas prisoners increased by more than 38,000% during April.

On May 1, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) reported 1,151 offenders have tested positive in TDCJ facilities.

The KVUE Defenders reported only three offenders had tested positive back on April 1.

That increase of more than 1,000 cases amounts to a 38,267% spike.

“That’s a drastic spike for people that are behind bars and are not even allowed outside of the prison,” Texas Inmate Families Association (TIFA) representative Monica Garza said. “So our question is, how is that even possible?”

RELATED: 2 offenders, 2 jail employees believed to have died from COVID-19 across Texas so far

Garza said she and other members of TIFA are worried about how quickly cases of COVID-19 are rising in Texas prisons.

As of May 1, TDCJ records 19 prisoner deaths presumed to be related to COVID-19. Another eight deaths are pending autopsy results.

Meanwhile, 19,905 offenders are on medical restrictions and 1,103 offenders are in medical isolation.

“How many more deaths are we going to have?” Garza asked. “It’s very scary for the families at home, very concerning. We don’t know what’s happening to our loved ones, especially the ones on lockdown. So, for a lot of us, it’s just a very scary situation.”


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Another concern the group has lies in the amount of testing happening inside the facilities.

TDCJ’s latest report shows 1,601 tests have been administered to offenders in the state’s prison system.

“And as we all have read or are learning about COVID, you can be a-symptomatic and not have any symptoms,” Garza said. “So that’s a big concern that we feel like maybe more testing should be done to prevent the spread.”

At the TDCJ, 413 employees have also tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the department’s latest report.

WATCH: COVID-19 cases surging in Texas jails


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