Terrell Young, a Riverside County sheriff’s deputy who died of coronavirus, likely contracted COVID-19 from an inmate, Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco said.
Young, the sheriff said, was as a compassionate deputy in working with the public and inmates.
“He was a fantastic role model for his kids, especially for his daughter,” Bianco said. “Employees knew they could count on him for good advice. Terell was always on time and very well liked by his peers and supervisors, and always willing to lend a hand. He was always smiling. According to many, he was known for his smile and he will be deeply missed.”
He was survived by his wife of 31 years and four children.
Bianco said he believes Young contracted the virus from an inmate whom he had escorted to the Riverside University Health System during the week of March 16.
On March 22, Young came down with a fever and went home. The next day, 10 employees, including Young, called in sick.
The inmate whom Young had escorted also began experiencing symptoms that day. The inmate has tested positive for the virus, although it’s unclear whether he tested positive before or after contact with Young.
Bianco said all employees and inmates who have exhibited symptoms have been quarantined and tested.
So far, 25 employees and 11 inmates have tested positive for the virus, some of whom did not show any symptoms.
Bianco said 60 inmates are in quarantine and 51 inmate tests are pending. In addition, 16 employees are awaiting their test results. Several of the sheriff department’s employees have been or are currently hospitalized.
One is in critical condition, Bianco said.
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“We are not considering this any type of jail emergency,” Bianco said. “We believe we have this contained at the moment. It should be an eye opener for the general public. We are seeing the drastic and the viral aspects of this, and it’s not pretty.”
Bianco said Young’s family has received an outpouring of support on social media, but deputies have not been able to have contact with his family members or hold the usual gatherings of support when a deputy dies. Young’s family has also become ill but is recovering in isolation at home.
“There are a lot of different emotions in the department. There’s a lot of uncertainty, there’s a lot of anxiety, there’s a lot of anger, there’s a lot of fear, and combine that with losing one of your friends,” he said. “If you really want to honor his death, stay home.”