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Coronavirus in Texas: State officials moved infected prisoners to Brazoria County without telling local leaders

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Medical equipment in an intensive care unit during a media tour of a medical shelter at NRG Park in Houston last week. The facility was built in less than a week for possible overflow of coronavirus cases in the Houston area Annie Mulligan for The Texas Tribune

Saturday's biggest developments:

  • Brazoria officials angered after infected inmates moved to prison units there
  • More than 17,000 Texans have tested positive for the new coronavirus and more than 400 have died

Local officials criticize prison officials for moving infected inmates to Brazoria County units

[5 a.m.] Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, and Brazoria County Judge Matt Sebesta are criticizing Texas prison officials for moving more than 100 inmates infected with the novel coronavirus to units in their county, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Both men indicated they weren't told about the Texas Department of Criminal Justice plan and Bonnen delivered to Gov. Greg Abbott a letter Sebesta wrote complaining about the matter, the paper reported.

“We need to know so we can let the public know,” Sebesta reportedly said. “We’re increasing the chances for the spread of the disease, not only for the prisoners that are normally housed here, but for the guards and their families.”

By Thursday, 327 Texas prisoners had tested positive for the coronavirus. A total of 531 tests had been completed of the approximately 140,000 inmates in the state’s prison system, according to TDCJ reports. More than 25 of the state’s more than 100 prison units were on lockdown — where all activity is halted and inmates are largely kept to their dorms or cells — because a person recently tested positive.

Texas reports 17,371 cases and 428 deaths

[5 a.m.] Texas officials are expected Saturday afternoon to release the latest number of people who have tested positive for the new coronavirus. Health officials reported yesterday that 17,371 Texans have tested positive and 428 have died. See maps of the latest cases numbers for each county and case rates per 1,000 residents.