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Texas prisons will implement widespread coronavirus testing procedure

An outbreak in the prison can affect you, even if you're not a criminal.

HOUSTON — Texas prisons are stepping up their testing for coronavirus.

On Tuesday, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice announced it would roll out widespread testing.

“It needs to be everyone’s concern," said Lance Lowry, Vice President for Correctional Officers Association of Texas.

Lowry said an outbreak of coronavirus behind bars will affect you, whether you think so or not.

“The officers are coming into your community also, so potentially this could carry a greater risk and spreading it across the state of Texas," he said.

So far, the deaths of 30 prisoners and seven employees have been linked to coronavirus. TDCJ released a video showing how inmates will self-administer the oral swab coronavirus test.

“These tests are readily available and deployable,” said Bryan Collier TDCJ Executive Director. “Increasing the information available to our medical professionals will help us to further enhance the agency’s ability to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

However, Lowry worries about inmate compliance and the test results.

“We are concerned about the accuracy of the tests. A lot of times the tests can be inaccurate," he said.

Lowry said increased testing is still a step in the right direction. He just wishes it didn’t take a pandemic to bring it on.

“As far as a clean bill of health on preparation, I’m not going to give them an A on this one. Definitely not,” he said.

A TDCJ spokesman said they expect the number of positive cases to increase, as with any large amount on testing, but they're prepared to handle the load.

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