Riverside County sheriff’s deputy dies of COVID-19; 25 other deputies, 11 inmates infected

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A Riverside County Sheriff’s Department deputy died Thursday of complications from COVID-19, authorities said.

Riverside County Sheriff's Department Deputy Terrell Young is seen in an undated photo released by the agency.
Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Terrell Young is seen in an undated photo released by the agency.

Deputy Terrell Young, a 54-year-old 15-year-veteran of the department, is the first member of the agency to die of the respiratory illness, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

The department had 25 employees in all who tested positive for the coronavirus as of Thursday, Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco said. The vast majority of infected employees were deputies, and one was hospitalized in critical condition.

Twenty-two of the infected employees worked at the Cois M. Byrd Detention Center, where Young worked, Bianco said. Two of them worked at the Robert Presley Detention Center and one was assigned to Riverside University Hospital.

Sixteen sheriff’s employees were awaiting the result of COVID-19 tests, and nine others had tested negative.

Eleven inmates have also tested positive for the novel coronavirus in the county’s jail system, the sheriff said. A total of 104 inmates have been quarantined and tested after displaying any type of cold symptoms. Forty-two of them have tested negative, and another 51 were awaiting test results.

Bianco said medical staff have been doing an outstanding job, and the county’s jails remain safe for inmates and employees. “We believe that we have this contained at the moment,” he said.

To those with loved ones in custody, Bianco said, “I can honestly tell you that I don’t think you have anything to worry about.”

“For employees, the same holds true,” he said.

Young worked at the Larry Smith Correctional Facility, the sheriff’s Perris and Southwest stations, at court services and most recently at the Cois Byrd Detention Center, according to a statement from the Riverside Sheriffs’ Association.

He is survived by his wife of 31 years and four children, according to the colleagues.

“We are saddened to announce the passing of one of our own RSO family members, Deputy Terrell Young… Our thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones during this difficult time,” the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said.

Deputy Young transported an inmate to a hospital on the week of March 16, Bianco said.

The deputy then fell ill shortly after arriving to work on March 22, the sheriff said. He developed a fever and went home. The following day, Young was among 10 employees at the facility to call in sick with flu-like symptoms. The inmate also became sypmptomatic.

The Sheriff’s Department had reported its first case of COVID-19 involving an inmate on Saturday. Bianco said the person had “very limited contact” with other inmates and was immediately isolated. The department did not specify which facility the inmate was being held in.

There were 493 coronavirus infections and 14 deaths reported in Riverside County as of Thursday, according to the Riverside University Health System. Fifty patients had recovered.

The sheriff said the agency had been working with officials to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the county since a plane with about 200 Americans evacuated from Wuhan, China arrived at the March Air Reserve Base back in January.

The department had ramped up cleanings of its facilities, secured personal protective equipment for personnel and is isolating inmates who develop symptoms, Bianco said.

“The news of Terrell’s loss strengthens our resolve to work ever more closely with our health professionals to stop the spread of COVID-19,” the association’s president Bill Young said in a written statement. “We continue to urge everyone that this virus is real, it is deadly, and we should continue to maintain social-distancing as much as possible.”

A fund to support Young’s family has been established online.

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