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Longtime El Paso downtown jail employee dies from virus; jail annex commander tests positive

The El Paso County Detention Facility, also known as the downtown jail.

EL PASO, Texas -- The El Paso County Detention Facility has recorded its first death stemming from coronavirus, officials confirmed Monday.

The victim was a man in his 70s who was a civilian employee at the downtown jail, said County Judge Ricardo Samaniego.

The man died Friday from complications due to Covid-19.

The El Paso County Sheriff's Office said the man had worked at the jail for 18 years and was well-liked by his co-workers.

"He was a cashier who worked the graveyard shift, dealing with bonds and commissary money and things of that nature,” said Sheriff Richard Wiles.

Meantime, Wiles also indicated that commander of the jail annex has been diagnosed with the virus and is now self-quarantining at home.

“Quite frankly this thing is such a moving target—for instance the jail commander of the jail annex came to work every day, no fever, no cough, no sore throat—he tested positive. We got the results back on Friday; we sent him home," the sheriff told Commissioner's Court on Monday afternoon.

The sheriff said asymptomatic spread is often hard to combat in a jail environment.

"So (the commander) actually was fine and eventually you could have an employee like that who is working on the floors. Now they wear masks and so did the commander, actually, but the employees wear masks, they clean their hands. Sanitizer is available. We require them to maintain the six-foot distance. So I guess what I’m trying to say is there’s so many unknowns with this virus we can’t anticipate every potential chance for transmission, but we’ve done a lot to eliminate those chances.”

Neither the names of the deceased worker nor the commander who had tested positive were disclosed.

Article Topic Follows: El Paso

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Jim Parker

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