The coronavirus outbreak at the El Paso County jail continued to grow Monday and two jail employees were hospitalized as officials compared the fast-spreading virus to “a wildfire.”
Infections jumped to 859 inmates out of 1,246 in custody Sunday — a significant spike from a day earlier when 658 tested positive, according to the latest numbers from the sheriff’s office.
Sixty-six sheriff's office employees tested positive and two have been hospitalized, Deborah Mynatt, a spokeswoman for the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, said Monday. She said she could not state if the employees were civilian employees or deputies, or their current conditions, citing privacy concerns. Both worked at the jail, she said.
“Like we said in the very beginning, once it gets in, it is just going to start going like wildfire. That’s exactly what has been proven in a two-week time frame,” Mynatt said. “It really is like a wildfire and we are trying our best to control it right now.”
Jail and public health officials first reported the outbreak on Oct. 26, when eight inmates, who were asymptomatic, tested positive for COVID-19. The outbreak, which has quickly become the state’s largest among inmates since the pandemic started, quickly spread through the facility, and infections increased tenfold over a five-day period.
Since the start of the pandemic, 927 inmates and 78 staff members have tested positive for the virus, according to the sheriff’s office’s website.
As of Monday, 1,755 tests were administered for inmates and 782 tests were administered for employees, Mynatt said, noting that some employees or inmates were tested numerous times.