Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) is reporting 129 total positive COVID-19 cases including seven positive employee cases at Wallace Pack Unit in Navasota and two possible inmate deaths.
The numbers reported were listed on the TDCJ website, www. tdcj.texas.gov Tuesday, May 26. Numbers on the website are updated daily except for Sundays. The two possible inmate deaths are Leonard Clerkly, age 62, who died April 11, and Daniel Thompson, age 71, who died May 5. Preliminary autopsy reports confirm the patients had COVID-19 related symptoms but the complete autopsy reports haven’t concluded.
The Examiner has received reported numbers from Grimes County Emergency Management Coordinator David Lilly, however those numbers, which were reported differ from the numbers reported by TDCJ substantially.
TDCJ Director of Communications Jeremy Desel and Lilly agree there is a disconnect somewhere in the numbers. Desel explained to The Examiner how TDCJ reports their numbers. “TDCJ is its own public health authority,” said Desel. “We report our numbers to the Texas State Department of Health Services. We also report our numbers on our website.”
Lilly said they report what DSHS reports to Grimes County. “There is a time lag between what TDCJ reports to DSHS and what DSHS reports to us,” explained Lilly. Lilly said when they receive TDCJ positive cases from DSHS, on almost all the cases they are listed as not verified. “I asked DSHS about that today and they said not verified means TDCJ handles all the tracking of their own cases so DSHS doesn’t do follow up with those. It is all handled internally with TDCJ.”
TDCJ has two Units in Grimes County, Wallace Pack and O.L. Luther Unit. No positive cases have been reported at the Luther Unit. Statewide Desel said there are at least 30 units where there are no signs of COVID-19.
The Wallace Pack Unit has been on lockdown since early April which doesn’t allow the intake of new offenders. Visitation has been suspended by Texas Governor Greg Abbott since March 13 which includes personal visitation and media and attorney visits. The suspension will continue until lifted by the Governor.
In lieu of units not being allowed to have visitation, the Offender Telephone System (OTS) is now operating 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Offenders are being escorted to phones when they are available even after traditional hours. Each offender is receiving two free 15-minute calls a week which reset every Tuesday. Disciplinary restrictions have been suspended. Offenders who do not have access to the OTS are being escorted to hardline phones in the units to make calls.
Cotton masks have been distributed to all inmates and employees to be worn within the unit to ensure TDCJ remains in CDC compliance.
All units follow the same strict guidelines to help stop the spread of the deadly virus. The Roach Unit in Childress ensures TDCJ facilities have ample disinfectants to maintain a clean facility. The unit can produce 16,000 pounds of soap, which equates to 10’s of thousands of bars of soap daily. They also produce 6,000 gallons of hand soap and can also produce bleach.
Employees are screened before entering the facility with a questionnaire as well as temperature checks.
At Pack Unit there are 498 offenders in Medical Restriction. There are 50 offenders in medical restriction at the Luther Unit. Medical restriction is used to separate and restrict the movement of well persons who may have been exposed to a communicable disease to see if they become ill. These people may have been exposed to a disease and not know it, or they may have the disease but do not show symptoms. Medical restriction can help limit the spread of disease.
There are currently 131 offenders in Medical Isolation at the Pack Unit. Luther Unit doesn’t have any. Medical Isolation is for people who are sick and contagious. Isolation is used to separate ill persons who have a communicable disease from those who are healthy. Isolation restricts the movement of ill persons to help stop the spread of disease.
For the latest COVID-19 updates in Grimes County view the special COVID-19 tab on The Examiner website, www.navasotaxaminer. com.