Pecos County officials await answer from Governor on how to respond to confirmed COVID-19 cases within TDCJ N5 Unit's offender population


Late Friday night, officials in Pecos County learned that 65 cases of COVID-19 had been reported among the offender population at the Texas Department of Criminal Jutice's N5 Unit in Fort Stockton. 

The cases caused an immediate spike in the county's total on state and national tracking web sites – pushing it from 28 cases to 93.

The county was not told directly about the cases, instead learning of it through the tracking sites and calls from concerned people in the county. 

The communication breakdown stems from the TDCJ reporting their cases directly to the state capital in Austin, while Pecos County reports to the Health and Human Services regional office in El Paso. It is that office that assigns case numbers and home county to each case. 

Pecos County has 28 confirmed cases, with four active. 

Adding in the 65 N5 Unit cases drives that number to 93.

Pecos County Judge Joe Shuster said that he is awaiting an answer from the governor's office on how to address the cases among offenders at the N5 Unit. 

Previoulsy, two inmates were listed among the county's confirmed cases.  Both recovered.

However, adding 65 cases would push Pecos County back to Phase 1 of the state's reopening plan, cutting capacity from 50 percent to 25 percent for most businesses. 

Currently, the offender cases have not been assigned numbers. 

Shuster is hopeful that since the offenders aren't out in the public, they will not be counted against the county's total.