The governor’s office announced this week a jump of 13 cases in Torrance County and 15 cases at the Torrance County Detention Facility in Estancia owned and operated by CoreCivic.

That brings the number of Torrance County cases to 33 cases with additional 17 cases from federal detainees at the prison, according to the Department of Health and the governor’s office daily release of New Mexico’s COVID numbers.

However, Torrance County Manager Matt Propp told The Independent that the actual number of cases in Torrance County Detention Facility could be more like 26, instead of 17.

He said the different totals stem from separate counts at the prison, where Torrance County inmates are counted by the Department of Health separately from federal detainees, including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees.

“Best place you can look is the aggregate numbers and know that, generally speaking, our jump was caused by the number over at the jail, not by any outbreak within the community” Torrance County Manager Wayne Johnson said May 27.

Johnson said the number of Torrance County cases listed daily by the state officials include the Torrance County Detention Facility inmates.

“I have a pretty high comfort level that they’ve got a handle on it over at the prison,” Johnson said.

CoreCivic did not respond to multiple requests for comment regarding how the prison is handling COVID testing, except to refer The Independent to ICE and a press release.

“Our health services administrators cooperate fully with local and state health departments, and our protocols mirror local, state, and federal recommendations,” CoreCivc said in a press release.

Johnson and Propp said the prison has tested all of its inmates and staff as of May 22, as requested by the state. Neither Johnson or Propp were concerned the virus would spread from the prison into the town of Estancia.

There are 29,251 cases, and 415 deaths, of COVID-19 in U.S. prisons as of May 27, according to The Marshall Project, a non-profit journalism outlet focused on criminal justice.

Justin Garcia
Justin Garcia