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Harris County jail employees hit hard with COVID-19 cases

At least 108 of the 126 Harris County Sheriff's Office staffers who've tested positive work at the jail.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — Editor's Note: The above video, originally published April 7, is about Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo's efforts to control COVID-19 cases at the jail. 

The number of Harris County Sheriff's Office employees who have contracted the coronavirus reached 126 individuals Thursday after the department received several long-awaited test.

These tests include deputies, detention officers and support staff.

At least six employees have been hospitalized due to the virus, and the majority of staff who have tested positive— a total 108— are stationed at the Harris County jail. 

Currently, 327 employees are in quarantine for possible COVID-19 exposure.

HCSO confirmed 153 quarantined employees, including 20 who previously tested positive for the virus, are back at work.

Ninety-three inmates have tested positive for the virus, but the sheriff's office said these offenders were placed into quarantine when they started showing symptoms.

The number of inmates in observational quarantine— meaning they have no symptoms but may have been exposed to the virus— now stands at 1,592.

Both employees and inmates have been given protective masks. The jails also checking the temperature of employee daily as they report for work. 

Of course, HCSO is also taking common safety measures at its offices and jails such sanitizing as much as possible, practicing social distancing and conducting meetings over the phone or digitally.

As a precautionary measure, the sheriff's office is telling inmates to self-quarantine for at least 14 days after their release.

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Coronavirus symptoms

The symptoms of coronavirus can be similar to the flu or a bad cold. Symptoms include a fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control.  Some patients also have nausea, body aches, headaches and stomach issues. Losing your sense of taste and/or smell can also be an early warning sign.

Most healthy people will have mild symptoms. A study of more than 72,000 patients by the Centers for Disease Control in China showed 80 percent of the cases there were mild.

But infections can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death, according to the World Health Organization. Older people with underlying health conditions are most at risk for becoming seriously ill. However, U.S. experts are seeing a significant number of younger people being hospitalized, including some in ICU.

The CDC believes symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after being exposed.

Human coronaviruses are usually spread through...

  • The air by coughing or sneezing
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.

Help stop the spread of coronavirus

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Eat and sleep separately from your family members
  • Use different utensils and dishes
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your arm, not your hand.
  • If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash.
  • Follow social distancing

Lower your risk

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • If you are 60 or over and have an underlying health condition such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or respiratory illnesses like asthma or COPD, the World Health Organization advises you to try to avoid crowds or places where you might interact with people who are sick.

Get complete coverage of the coronavirus by texting 'FACTS' to 713-526-1111.