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Brazos County officials mistakenly transport positive COVID-19 inmate to courthouse twice

Posted at 2:36 PM, Aug 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-20 18:56:19-04

A positive COVID-19 inmate was mistakenly taken to court twice without court personnel having been notified of the diagnosis.

According to the Brazos County Sheriff's Office, on the evening of August 18, Brazos County Detention personnel determined that an inmate, who had previously tested positive for COVID-19, had been transported to the courthouse on August 17 and August 18. The sheriff's office immediately notified the judge of the court.

Also on August 18, a second inmate had been transported to the courthouse with the COVID-19 positive inmate.

The sheriff's office says the deputy and inmates were wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) in accordance with established procedures.

The COVID-19 positive inmate was symptomatic on August 8, tested and placed into quarantine. A positive test result came back on August 11, which precipitated the inmate being placed in isolation and provided appropriate medical care. As of the morning of August 17, the sheriff's office says the inmate no longer had a fever, nor were they displaying other symptoms of COVID-19.

BCSO staff received a court docket notification that included the inmate with a court date of August 17. The sheriff's office says due to a "break down" in internal communications, the inmate was mistakenly transported to court on Monday and Tuesday without notification to the court.

Detention Center personnel have implemented additional procedures to improve communications that will inform transport personnel and courts in advance if an inmate had previously tested positive for COVID-19.

BSO says personnel will continue to follow already established infectious disease protocols, including medical isolation and the use of PPE. They will also continue to follow the sheriff's office's response plan and take safety precautions for the duration of the pandemic.

The Brazos County Health District has been notified of this potential exposure.

“I regret that our internal process for tracking and sharing information failed to provide transport deputies with critical information. They were unaware the defendant had previously tested positive for COVID 19," said Sheriff Chris Kirk. "We have implemented additional procedures to improve communication and prevent a reoccurrence. We are working diligently to manage COVID 19 at the Detention Center. Our response to the pandemic is based on CDC guidelines and correctional best practices that are constantly evolving. We will continue to evaluate and implement new procedures to reduce potential exposures. The safety of our staff, the inmates placed in our custody and the community are our highest priorities.”