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TEXARKANA, Texas — Two additional correctional officers working in the Bowie County jail have tested positively for COVID-19 bringing the total of infected staff to four.

Because of contact with one of the infected officers, 37 inmates have been placed in quarantine and are being closely monitored for symptoms, LaSalle Corrections Spokesman Steve Giddings said.

LaSalle is a private company that contracts with Bowie County to manage the jail located on the fourth floor of the Bi-State Justice Building and the jail located behind the Bi-State commonly referred to as the annex. The jail has the capacity to hold 917 inmates and housed 691 as of Monday.

"The Bowie County Corrections Center in Texarkana reported (Monday) two additional employees tested positive for the COVID-19 virus over the weekend. Those employees are currently recovering at home, and personnel they were in contact with have been sent home to self-isolate," Giddings said. "As a precautionary measure, two groups of inmates that may have been in contact with one of the impacted employees have been separated from the general population within the facility. BCCC has implemented measures to prevent the spread of the virus and no other employees or inmates are experiencing symptoms at this time."

Dr. Pamela Hearn, Medical Director for LaSalle Corrections, said the company is prepared to deal with COVID-19.

"The facility is working hard to keep the virus out of the inmate population. Facility employees and medical staff continue to monitor inmates. Should any inmates exhibit symptoms, we will implement our protocols to test and isolate them from other inmates," Hearn said.

One of the first two officers who tested positively has recovered and returned to work following a 14-day period of isolation, Giddings said. Giddings said LaSalle is sanitizing and disinfecting the jail regularly.

"Every employee is screened and has their temperature taken upon arriving at work each day," Hearn said. "Our nurses are making rounds, checking on prisoners to see if any of them are experiencing symptoms. We have social distancing. And we are cleaning and sanitizing throughout the facility."

Jay Eason, Director of Operations at LaSalle Corrections, said the company's pandemic contingency plan includes "screening, testing, appropriate treatment, prevention, education, and infection control measures" and said the virus has not caused disruption to the orderly operation of facilities. Eason said the facility is prepared to continue to operate safely and appropriately and provide inmates with the services they need.

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