COVID-19 Outbreak in Sierra Conservation Center, Families not Told for Two Weeks

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Elijah Johnson in court.Courtesy of Jamilia Land

By Robert J. Hansen

Somewhere between 20 and 30 inmates have contracted Covid-19 at the Sierra Conservation Center (SCC) in the last two weeks, according to an inmate there.

A newly housed inmate claimed he was not sick and wasn’t made to take any precautions despite showing symptoms, according to Elijah Johnson.

“From there, an outbreak started,” Johnson said.

Johnson said that every other day since, at least three men have come down with the coronavirus.

Daniel Ruiz, a father of six from Sacramento, was sentenced in January 2020 to four years in prison and died in July 2020 of Covid-19.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) must, by law, use “all reasonable means” to notify an inmate’s contacts in the case of severe injury or illnesses.

The law does not say when exactly the prison must alert families, but the CDCR’s operations manual says “as soon as possible,” or what’s deemed a severe illness.

The CDCR will not comment on whether any policies prevent hospitals from contacting families of incarcerated patients.

Johnson felt a high fever and a migraine headache the day after he played football.

“[Everyday] It just got worse and worse,” Johnson said.

After two weeks with Covid-19, his mother, Jamila Land, is distraught over just learning of her son contracting Covid-19.

“There is this massive Covid outbreak, and we haven’t heard anything about it,” Land said.

She is also concerned about SCC being in the fire zone.

“CDCR does not have an evacuation plan,” Land said. “Their emergency response is to shelter in place, so they lock them down.”

SCC public information officer Ricardo Jaureguoi is unavailable from September 1 through September 6 according to his voicemail.

Robert J Hansen is an investigative journalist and economist. Focused on holding elected officials, police and the courts accountable to the people throughout the greater Sacramento area.

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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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