(Texas Military Department)

(Tribune News Service) — The Texas Juvenile Justice Department confirmed Wednesday it received assistance from the Texas Military Department in a statement it shared first with the Marshall Project and then with The Monitor.

A rise in COVID cases around the state created a shortage of personnel this week at Texas juvenile detention facilities, including one in Edinburg.

Staff at the Evins Regional Juvenile Center in Edinburg fell short of required levels after an increase in positive cases there.

As of Tuesday, there were 76 active cases across facilities with 39 among the youth and 37 among staff.

"The Texas Juvenile Justice Department is grateful for the assistance provided by the Texas Military Department, whose personnel are serving in limited support roles at our facilities," Brian Sweany, the communications director, said via statement. "One of those facilities is the Evins Regional Juvenile Center in Edinburg."

The Texas Military Department is composed of three military branches: the Texas Army National Guard, the Texas Air National Guard and the Texas State Guard.

"Our agency's priority remains the safety of our youth, and as the rise in COVID cases across the state has impacted staffing levels, this additional help will allow TJJD staff to focus on the direct care of youth and help ensure the smooth operation of our campuses," Sweany said.

The support will also be offered to other facilities across the state, including the Gainesville State School in Cooke County, Ron Jackson State Juvenile Correctional Complex in Brownwood, and McLennan County State Juvenile Correctional Facility in Mart. The Giddings State School in Lee County was also offered the assistance, but does not need the extra support at this time, Sweany said.

The help is scheduled to run through Jan. 9, though it could be extended if necessary.

Since the start of the pandemic, TJJD has reported 634 cases of COVID-19 among staff. Of those, 115 cases, or 18%, were reported at the Evins Regional Juvenile Center.

(c)2021 The Monitor (McAllen, Texas)

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