Test Positivity Rates Increase Across Bay Area County Jails After Months of Decline

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Daily updates on the COVID-19 crisis in California’s county jail system

1. Alameda County Jail (Santa Rita Jail) – Highlights
Since Friday, July 23, four new COVID-19 cases have emerged. Two active cases were released from custody while active, and four of which were resolved in custody. Within the past two weeks, there have been 13 cases reported. As of July 27, there are three active cases in custody– two are asymptomatic while one is symptomatic. Minimal testing, poor quarantine protocols, and lack of proper testing suggest that there may be more cases than Alameda County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) reports. There are currently seven housing pods quarantined, three of which are undergoing surveillance testing.

  • ACSO reports seven current positive staff/contractor cases – six of which have emerged since Friday, July 23. There have been a total of 121 staff/contractor cases during the pandemic, 114 of which have recovered.
  • Alameda County Public Health Dept. has mandated testing for ACSO employees from March 1 onward through a county health order.

    • For the July 25 – August 7 testing period, 138 staff have been tested so far.
    • For the July 11 – July 24 testing period, 918 ACSO SRJ staff were tested.
    • For the June 27 – July 10 testing period, 968 ACSO SRJ staff were tested according to the July 12 monthly report to Public Health. 1013 ACSO SRJ staff were required to comply with the order. 127 ACSO SRJ staff were exempt from testing. 45 ACSO SRJ staff were out of compliance, showing a 95 percent compliance rate.
  • SRJ’s population is currently 2089 people, showing an increase of 26 people since July 26.
  • 15,916 tests have been conducted to date, showing an increase of 78 tests since July 26. There are currently 112 pending tests.
  • While the weekly testing rate has historically been low, it has decreased by one percent. 15 percent of the jail population was tested within the seven-day period prior to July 21. Within the past week, 14 percent of the jail population was tested. Testing rates may be higher due to ongoing surveillance testing.
  • SRJ has 177 orange patients, showing an increase of one person since July 26. Orange patients are currently healthy but considered at increased risk for COVID-19 according to the SRJ patient color coding system outlined in the SRJ COVID-19 Outbreak Control Plan. Nearly nine percent of the jail population are medically vulnerable.
  • SRJ has 12 red patients – showing an increase of three people since July 26. Red patients have COVID-19 symptoms but are not COVID-19 positive.
  • SRJ also has three dark red patients. Dark red patients have positive COVID-19 test results.
  • Red and dark red patients are released individually from their respective housing locations (Outpatient Housing Unit (OPHU), HU8A or HU8C) when cleared by medical.
  • Vaccinations for the incarcerated population are administered Tuesday through Thursday. The vaccination stats are updated every Friday. The following stats are current as of July 22, 2021.

    • 857 people received both shots of the Moderna vaccine or the single-shot Janssen vaccine while in custody. 516 of them are still in custody, meaning roughly only 24 percent of the current population is fully vaccinated.
    • 103 people received one shot of the vaccine while in custody. 32 of them are still in custody, meaning roughly 1 percent of the current population is partially vaccinated.
  • HU 8 D was quarantined on July 14 due to a red patient presenting symptoms. They remain quarantined until July 29 unless the index case tests negative. (Last released from quarantine on June 18.)
  • HU 21 A, B, C was quarantined on July 16 due to a patient testing positive for COVID-19. They are currently undergoing surveillance testing. (Last released from quarantine on January 14.)
  • HU 33 A, B, and C have been quarantined due to a patient presenting symptoms. They will remain quarantined until August 8 unless the index case tests negative. (Last released from quarantine on July 2.)

Source: The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office updates their website daily with COVID-19 case and testing numbers from the jail. Darby Aono, a Berkeley Law student, has been recording the daily reports in a spreadsheet going back to early spring.

2. San Francisco County Jails – Highlights
As of July 27, there are 2 active COVID-19 cases in custody, out of 164 total confirmed cases. 11 cases of COVID have appeared in the entire month of July. 8 of those who were infected while in custody were released after testing positive or after their cases were resolved.

  • The number of formerly positive cases have increased by 1 after July 16. As of July 27, 8 formerly positive cases are still in custody. 
  • Since the pandemic emerged, a total of 152 cases out of 164 confirmed cases have been either released while positive or released after recovery.
  • The number of active cases in custody has not been greater than 4 since late February. 9 cases have emerged in the beginning of July and 2 remain in custody.
  • Since July 6, the quarantine population has decreased by 5, and the isolated cases have increased by 3. Thus, as of July 27, there are 176 persons in quarantine, of which 14 are in medical isolation.
  • Between July 18 and July 27, 230 individuals were booked into custody. Since the pandemic emerged, there have been 13,678 total bookings. Despite the high intake rate, the incarcerated population has consistently stayed within the range of 750 to 850 people since April 2020. Currently, there are 782 people in custody — a decrease of 4 people since yesterday, July 26.
  • Between July 10 and July 17, approximately 276 additional tests were administered for new books and residents.
  • During the pandemic, San Francisco Sheriff’s Office has displayed an increasing trend of releasing individuals with positive cases or individuals who have recovered while in custody. There have been 152 such releases thus far. This strategy has aided the jails in keeping their active cases under strict control, evidenced by the fact that there have been no major outbreaks since the pandemic emerged. In fact, the highest number of cases recorded on a single day was 9.

3. Yolo County – Highlights
Yolo County Jail
As of Oct. 12 2020, there are no confirmed cases out of 53 total tests administered in the jail. The jail population is currently 208, a slight increase since the last recorded population count on August 3, which was 193 persons. 1 person is in medical isolation in the jail.

Yolo County Juvenile Hall
As of July 13 2020, Juvenile Hall reported one positive case out of the 24 tests conducted.

  • According to Yolo County Counsel, Phil Pogledich, “The one positive case is for a youth that tested at a local hospital before he was detained”. 
  • Data shows that the youth who tested positive was released while he was still COVID-19 active.

4. Sacramento County – Highlights
(Sacramento Main Jail & Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center)

As of July 21, there are 1823* cumulative confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Sacramento County Jail system

  • Between July 14 and July 21, 3 active cases were reported in the Main Jail, while the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center (RCCC) reported none. This marks the third consecutive week during which the RCCC has reported no cases.
  • The population across both facilities has been on a downward trajectory this month. There are 2993 people in custody across both facilities– a decrease of 51 since the the week of July 7. 
  • Between July 14 and July 21, 251 new tests were administered to new books and residents, meaning that at most 8.38 percent of the total population was newly tested. Since the population is constantly in flux with new bookings, releases and transfers, it is possible that this percentage is an overestimate.
  • During January and February, the weekly testing rate was between 15-20 percent and active cases were in the hundreds. The continuous decline in testing since the month of March suggests that there may be more cases than reported.
  • Data on the number of active cases released from custody and the number of resolved cases that remain in custody has not been reported since Aug. 19 2020. While the county’s staff COVID-19 protocol suggests this information is documented, the Sacramento County’s Office of Information has declined to provide this data.
  • As of July 7, 1365 individuals were fully vaccinated and 774 were partially vaccinated while in custody– an increase of 88 and 531 since June 2 respectively. These counts include those who were released or transferred after receiving a vaccine– it is not the current number of fully or partially vaccinated individuals in custody. Since the population is in constant flux with new bookings, releases and transfers, it is impossible to ascertain the degree of immunity against COVID-19 in the jails using the available data.
  • As of July 14, 431 healthcare/Sheriff’s Office staff have been fully vaccinated and 16 staff are partially vaccinated. The county’s Dept. of Health Services states their staff population count totals 409, however no data is available on the staff population for the Sheriff’s Office. It is impossible to report the degree of immunity against COVID-19 among staff who enter the jail’s premises, without this data. 
  • Between July 11 and July 17, 21 youth or 18.5 percent of the population was tested at the Youth Detention Facility (YDF). Since the week of July 4, there has been a 10 percent increase in testing, which matches the average testing rate reported in the prior months.
  • Between July 11 and July 17, the JDF has reported 1 confirmed case which is active case in custody. 

*Sacramento Sheriff’s Office reports that 76 duplicate positive results have been identified and removed from the total number of confirmed cases

5. Santa Clara County – Highlights
As of July 27, there are no active COVID-19 cases in the Santa Clara County jail system.

  • There are currently 2,378 total incarcerated people in custody– 5 more than the count on July 26.
  • 31,479 tests have been completed. 590 came back positive and 30,880 came back negative. 254 tests were completed between July 26 and July 27, and all came back negative.
  • There have been 609 cumulative positive cases. 186 cases were confirmed during booking and 423 were confirmed in custody.
    • The 14-day average for test positivity rate is now at .21 percent.
  • Vaccinations for the incarcerated population began on Jan. 26, 2021. The jail system has prioritized high-risk individuals and those 65+. Now, everyone in custody at Elmwood Correctional Complex and Main jail as well those who are 16+ at juvenile halls are eligible for vaccines.
  • As of April 6, 1,008 individuals in both jails and the juvenile detention facilities have been fully or partially vaccinated. In the Main Jail and Elmwood, 795 have been fully vaccinated and 164 have received their first dose. These counts include those who were released or transferred after receiving a vaccine– it is not the current number of fully or partially vaccinated individuals in custody. Since the population is in constant flux with new bookings, releases and transfers, it is impossible to ascertain the degree of immunity against COVID-19 in the jails using the available data.
  • As of April 6, 572 out of 1132 custody staff employees at the Sheriff’s Office have been fully vaccinated. This vaccination rate of 55 percent is not significantly higher than that reported two months prior. As of Feb. 9, 475 out of 1025 custody staff employees, or 46 percent, were fully vaccinated. 
  • It is important to note that the vaccine data for Sheriff’s Office employees only includes those who were vaccinated at the Public Safety Clinic, a vaccination site coordinated by the Santa Clara Public Health Dept. The data does not include employees who may have been vaccinated through their own providers.
  • Concerns from incarcerated people at Elmwood Correctional Complex in Milpitas, Santa Clara County suggest that testing, sanitation, and quarantine protocols are not thorough enough to protect them from COVID-19.

Sources:
Alameda County: County Sheriff’s Office updates their website at the end of the day with case and testing numbers from the jail —https://www.alamedacountysheriff.org/admin_covid19.php.
SF County: Director of Communications, San Francisco Sheriff’s Office.

Information on COVID-19 cases in jails: https://www.sfsheriff.com/covid-19-jail-sfso-staff-data 
Solano County: Deputy Leron Cummings, the Public Information Officer, Solano County Sheriff’s Office and Shai Davis, Public Information Officer, Solano County Public Health Office.
Yolo County: Lieutenant Matt Davis, Yolo County Sheriff’s Department and Philip Pogledich, Yolo County Counsel
LA County: Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Custody Division COVID-19 Fact Sheet: https://lasd.org/covid19updates/
Orange County: Orange County Sheriff’s Department: https://www.ocsd.org/about_ocsd/covid_19
Santa Clara County: Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office:
https://www.sccgov.org/sites/sheriff/COVID19/Pages/Population-COVID-19-Tracking.aspx
Sacramento County: Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office:
https://www.sacsheriff.com/Pages/Organization/Corrections/COVID19.aspx
Board of State & Community Corrections (BSCC): On July 15, BSCC Chair, Linda Penner,  requested Sheriffs and Chief Probation Officers to release weekly COVID-19 data for jails and Youth Detention Facilities. This database remains incomplete as many facilities have refused to comply. Further, it does not contain historical data prior to July 20.
http://www.bscc.ca.gov/covid-19-data-dashboard-landing-page/

By Aparna Komarla, Tiffany Devlin, Aziza Nussipov, Minerva Melendrez, Angela Khov & Alexander Ramirez

Contact: Aparna Komarla (apkomarla@ucdavis.edu)

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2 thoughts on “Test Positivity Rates Increase Across Bay Area County Jails After Months of Decline”

    1. Keith Olsen

      Ha, remember the video of the convicts passing around and sipping on the same cup of water where they were trying to catch COVID?  Get of of jail free card…

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