Two Willacy jailers contract COVID-19

RAYMONDVILLE — Two Willacy County jailers have tested positive for the coronavirus, leading officials to test more than 40 employees Monday.

On Monday, officials were preparing to test the jail’s 40 inmates.

The two jailers have been isolated, said Maj. Andres Maldonado of the Willacy County Sheriff’s Department.

“They’re quarantined as ordered by doctors,” he said. “We are following strict guidelines.”

The first jailer was tested May 26 while three other employees were tested May 28, Maldonado stated in a press release.

“We have implemented each and every recommendation that the department of health has asked be implemented,” Frank Torres, the county’s emergency management coordinator said. “We have tested all sheriff’s office employees today, and we’re awaiting results.”

Officials are trying to stop an outbreak.

“I hope this in not an outbreak in Willacy County,” Raymondville Mayor Gilbert Gonzales said. “I hope it stops here.”

In the press release, Maldonado stated officials have “initiated stricter safety and distancing policies for employees.”

Testing inmates, police officers

On Monday, county leaders and health officials were preparing to test the jail’s 40 inmates.

“We are waiting for guidance from the Department of Health,” Torres said. “We will follow whatever recommendation the Department of Health gives us.”

At the Raymondville Police Department, 12 patrolmen and detectives were also tested for the virus, Police Chief Uvalde Zamora said.

“They take the inmates over there,” Gonzales said, referring to the jail.

Officials have closed the jail to inmates’ visitors.

“All inmate visitation remains closed and all visitors will continue to be required to be screened,” the press release stated, adding officials will continue taking visitors’ temperatures.

Health officials report 3 new cases

Meanwhile, the state health department is confirming three new Willacy County cases of the COVID-19 virus.

The two jailers make up two of the county’s new cases, Gonzales said, adding the jailers who contracted the virus are a man and woman.

On Sunday, the health department confirmed a man in his 40s and a woman in her 30s had become the county’s 17th and 18th cases.

On Monday, officials confirmed a woman in her 50s had become the county’s 19th case.

An investigation found the woman contracted the virus through interaction in the community, Dr. Emilie Prot, Region 11’s medical director, stated in a press release.

Now, officials are investigating to determine whether the woman infected others, Prot stated.

Cases climbing

Last week, health officials confirmed the county’s 15th and 16th cases of the coronavirus — its first new cases in nearly three weeks.

On Thursday, officials confirmed a woman in her 60s had become the county’s 15th case of the COVID-19 virus.

Then on Friday, they confirmed a man in his 60s had become the 16th case.

The series of cases marks the county’s first new cases since May 6, when officials began investigating how a man in his 30s contracted the virus.

“We were doing so great,” Gonzales said, referring to the spate of new cases.