The number of California Institution for Men employees testing positive for coronavirus has reached 11, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced Tuesday.
With a total of 22 state prison employees in California testing positive for the virus, state prison officials announced plans to help mitigate the spread of the virus.
The first two California Institution for Men employees to test positive for coronavirus was reported March 22. Two more were reported late last week and seven more since Friday.
Names, ranks, ages, cities of residences and the counties in which they tested positive was not announced.
One inmate at the Chino prison and three inmates at the California State Prison-Los Angeles County in Lancaster have tested positive among the 243 inmates across the state who have been tested for COVID-19 as of Tuesday afternoon.
Three employees at the California State Prison-Sacramento tested positive for coronavirus; two Wasco State Prison; and one each at the California Health Care Facility in Stockton; Folsom State Prison; Northern California Youth Correctional Center; Salinas Valley State Prison; San Quentin State Prison; and the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison.
Four inmates each at the California Institution for Men and California Institution for Women in Chino have been tested.
“The measures will increase both capacity and physical space at the state’s prisons, which will allow the department to increase physical distancing, and assist it with isolation and quarantine efforts by suspected or positive COVID-19 cases,” prison officials said.
The new measures are:
*Mandatory verbal and temperature screenings for staff before they enter any institution and CDCR work sites.
*Suspension of intake from county jails, projected to reduce the population by 3,000 within 30 days.
*Suspension of visitation. Inmates will get additional free phone calls made available through a deal with the inmate telephone network provider.
*Suspension of access by volunteers and rehabilitative program providers.
*Suspension of inmate movement other than for critical purposes.
*Measures to support increased physical distancing, including reducing the number of inmates who use common spaces at the same time.
*Reinforced commitment to hygiene both institutional and personal, including greater availability of soap and hand sanitizer.
The plan also includes possibly releasing at least 3,500 eligible inmates with 60 days or less on their sentences. Inmates must not be serving time for a violent crime, including sex offenses or domestic violence.
“The plan also includes making more use of the state’s private and public Community Correctional Facilities, as well as maximizing open spaces in prisons, such as gymnasiums, to increase capacity and inmate movement options,” prison officials said.
CDCR Secretary Ralph Diaz said prison officials are not taking the new measures lightly.
“Our first commitment at CDCR is ensuring safety,” he said. “However, in the face of a global pandemic, we must consider the risk of COVID-19 infection as a grave threat to safety, too.”