HUNTSVILLE, Texas (KXAN) — David Quintero is now the 40th inmate to die from COVID-19 while serving time in a state prison.
The 70-year-old had served 7 years of a 15-year sentence out of Bexar County. He died May 10 at the Jester III Unit near Houston, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
There have been 7 state prison employee deaths from COVID-19 in Texas.
The number of positive coronavirus cases among state prisoners and staff continues to rise as testing increases. As of Wednesday, close to 6,600 inmates had tested positive, and about 960 staff members. That number includes results from mass testing that been completed at 39 units so far across the state, which involves testing of all inmates and staff who do not feel sick.
“The most important thing is we are seeing a consistent drop in the symptomatic offenders and the symptomatic cases and the number of hospitalizations and critical hospitalizations,” said TDCJ spokesperson Jeremy Desel.
He said the number of inmates showing symptoms have been on the decline for the last five weeks in a row.
The TDCJ launched a new coronavirus dashboard this week to better display current COVID-19 data to the public, very similar to the tool cities and counties have been using.
Strike teams started testing entire units in May. So far, there have been about 66,500 inmates tested, and nearly 21,000 employees tested. Currently, nearly 5,000 inmates are in medical isolation and 58 of 106 units across the state have active cases.
While the state says the parole review process has not been delayed due to the virus, programs needed for parole-approved inmates to be released are being affected due to more than 40 units currently on lockdown because they have positive COVID-19 cases.
“It is true that there have been some offenders who have been unable to start some of those higher demand classes that are given at only certain locations because we’re not moving offenders from one unit to another for any reason other than medical,” said Desel.
Desel said 199 state prisoners were released just today, and about 8,000 inmates have been released since the pandemic began.
The population has dropped from around 140,000 state prisoners to 132,000, but during normal times would stay about the same because of the constant intake of county jail inmates. That process is currently on hold.