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Coronavirus Featured Justice

El Paso County Jail inmate dies of COVID-19


A 59-year-old inmate at the El Paso County Jail has died of COVID-19, Sheriff Richard Wiles told El Paso Matters. It is the first known COVID-19-related death of a person held at any jail or detention facility in El Paso County.

Vicente Rodriguez had been held on charges of aggravated sexual assault on a child since June 2018, records show. Rodriguez died on Monday, Wiles said.

The Department of Public Health weekly clusters report said that as of Monday, El Paso County had 538 positive COVID-19 cases among people held in detention facilities, with one reported death. Prior to Monday, no deaths had been reported at an El Paso detention facility.

The new cluster report also revealed for the first time that a restaurant worker had died of COVID-19. The health department doesn’t identify specific locations of COVID-19 clusters.

El Paso has four major detention facilities — the Immigration and Customs and Enforcement El Paso Processing Center, the Rogelio Sanchez State Jail, and the El Paso County Jail and Jail Annex. Several smaller facilities detain juveniles and others.

ICE reported that 164 detainees at the El Paso Processing Center have tested positive for COVID-19. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice reported 241 COVID-19 cases among inmates at the Rogelio Sanchez State Jail as of Monday.

The Texas Commission on Jail Standards only requires counties to report current active cases among inmates, rather than total cases since the beginning of the pandemic. El Paso County reported 67 active COVID-19 cases as of Monday at its jails.

Robert Moore

Robert Moore is the founder and CEO of El Paso Matters. He has been a journalist in the Texas Borderlands since 1986. His work has received a number of top journalism honors including the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, Pulitzer Prize finalist and the Benjamin C. Bradlee Editor of the Year Award. Moore’s work has appeared in the Washington Post, Texas Monthly, ProPublica, National Public Radio, The Guardian and other publications. He has been featured as an expert on border issues by CNN, MSNBC, BBC, CBC and PBS.

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