Dallas County Jail Hit With First Positive Coronavirus Test

Dallas County's Lew Sterrett Justice Center. Close quarters and little social distance.
Andres Praefcke
Dallas County's Lew Sterrett Justice Center. Close quarters and little social distance.
1:58 p.m.: Updated with additional information from Dallas County Sheriff Marian Brown

An inmate at the Dallas County Jail has tested positive for the coronavirus, the Dallas County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday morning.

The inmate is no longer housed at the jail, according to the sheriff's department.

Dallas County Sheriff Marian Brown released additional information about the positive test Wednesday afternoon. The man who tested positive was in his 40s, Brown said. At the time he tested positive, he was living in a jail housing pod with 50 other inmates.

According to Brown, four of the inmates with whom the man was living have exhibited symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Those individuals have been tested for the virus. The 46 inmates who have not shown symptoms are also in quarantine, the sheriff said, as are the sheriff’s department employees who came in contact with the inmate.

Brown said her office is still investigating how the man might have contracted the virus but said he’s been in county custody since late December, making it unlikely that he caught the virus outside the jail.

Wednesday's news comes one day after the Texas Department of Criminal Justice announced the first positive COVID-19 test for one of its inmates. Late last week, a TDCJ contract employee also tested positive for the virus.

Around the country, many municipal and state officials have made decisions to release inmates from crowded jail and prison environments that could serve as breeding grounds for the virus, which has infected more than 160 people in Dallas County.