A recent increase in the number of the COVID-19 cases among inmates at the California Institution for Men (CIM) in Chino has prison officials taking extra steps to help mitigate the spread of the virus by moving medically vulnerable inmates and continually requiring the use of face coverings.

“CDCR (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) takes the health and safety of those who live and work in our state prisons very seriously,” CDCR press secretary Dana Simas said Tuesday.

“CIM is taking extraordinary steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including moving inmates identified as medically vulnerable for COVID-19 complications from open-dorm settings to celled housing, staggering recreation, showers and dining in cohorts, and continuing to require facial barriers be worn by all staff and incarcerated persons.”

Since Sept. 4, the prison at 14901 Central Ave. has had 293 positive infections among inmates, including 42 in the past 14 days, according to CDCR statistics.

Fifty-three percent of the prison’s population equal to 1,222 inmates have been tested for the virus in the past two weeks, Ms. Simas said.

Prison staff is tested every seven days, she added.

Since the pandemic began in March, 1,407 inmates tested positive for the virus.

Of those, 1,304 inmates recovered and 25 inmates died from complication of the virus, prison statistics show. 

The latest death took place Oct. 15.

Currently, 42 inmates at the prison are positive for COVID-19.

Nearly 250 CIM employees have contracted the virus, and 239 have recovered, the numbers show.

Women's prison

Ms. Simas said there are 303 inmate cases of COVID-19 statewide at prison facilities, the lowest number since May, but there are no cases currently at the California Institution for Women, located in southern Chino at 16756 Chino Corona Road.

“This is a result of the preparedness and response efforts the department has taken,” the spokeswoman said.

Those steps include bi-monthly testing of staff, weekly testing of staff when an outbreak is reported, having inmates and staff continue to wear face coverings, enforce social distancing directives, provide inmates and staff with personal protective equipment, having isolation and quarantine space available, contract tracing for both inmates and staff, and continued testing of previously-positive inmates even after their case is resolved, Ms. Simas said.

California Institution for Women has had 353 total cases among its inmates and 96 cases among staff members since March. 

One inmate and one employee have died from complications of the virus, statistics show.

In the past two weeks, all 264 inmates at the women’s prison who have been tested for the virus have been negative.  There are 1,190 inmates currently housed at the women’s prison.

More than 15,350 inmates and 4,176 state prison employees statewide have tested positive for the virus since mid-March.

A total of 14,523 inmates have recovered and 74 have died, including 28 at San Quentin State Prison in Northern California.

Ten state prison staff members have died from the virus with the latest on Oct. 4, an employee at Wasco State Prison in Central California. 

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