COVID-19 Outbreaks at Wasco, Corcoran, High Desert, and Centinela State Prisons Worsen


This report is written by the Covid In-Custody Project — an independent journalism project that partners with the Davis Vanguard to bring reporting on the pandemic in California’s county jails and Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to the public eye. Refer to our website to view and download the raw data.

As of October 18, there are 51,039 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the CDCR system, 205 of which have been confirmed in the past two weeks. 204 cases remain active in custody. There have been 241 deaths across the CDCR system thus far.

  • Overall, 11 CDCR facilities out of 35 have active COVID-19 cases in custody. 
  • An outbreak at North Kern State Prison (NKSP) developed in early September. At the peak of the outbreak there were over 100 active cases in custody, but this week it has significantly subsided to 10 cases. This is a reduction of 11 cases over the weekend. 59% of residents and 57% of staff are fully vaccinated at the prison.
  • Wasco State Prison (WSP) has been experiencing an outbreak since July. There were signs of improvement last week. However, 3 new cases emerged over the weekend, bringing the total to 49 cases active in custody. 
  • On Oct. 4, an outbreak developed at CA State Prison Corcoran (COR) with 3 cases. Over the weekend, cases surged to 93. 53% of staff are fully vaccinated at the prison, 25% lower than the resident vaccination rate of 78%. 
  • On Oct. 6, an outbreak emerged at High Desert State Prison (HDSP) with 14 cases. Since last week cases have remained stagnant, at 23 active cases.
  • Last week an outbreak developed at Centinela State Prison (CEN). Since then the outbreak has worsened, with an increase of 3 cases over the weekend and 16 cases active in custody. 
  • Today an outbreak emerged at CA State Prison, Sacramento (SAC), with 3 cases.  
  • Wasco State Prison (WSP) has tested the most patients in the past 14 days, 49% of its population. 
  • Central CA Women’s Facility (CCWF) has tested the least patients in the past two weeks, 14 percent of its population. 
  • 76,469 patients across CDCR have been fully vaccinated, a vaccination rate of 77%. 1,953 patients are partially vaccinated. The staff vaccination is 61%, with 40,292 staff members fully vaccinated and 1,977 partially vaccinated.

Source: -> Access Raw Data Files -> CDCR

By Aparna Komarla, Yasmeen Khan & Simran

Contact: Aparna Komarla (


About The Author

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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8 thoughts on “COVID-19 Outbreaks at Wasco, Corcoran, High Desert, and Centinela State Prisons Worsen”

    1. Bill Marshall

      Yes… and nursing homes and convelescent places are doing great in culling the herd… and as long as they are cremated quickly, makes it safer for all of the rest of us!

      Very Republican, ‘conservative’ of you… to recommend ‘herd immunity’…

      Now if we just stopped staffing those facilities, to prevent community spread, “we’d get ‘er done!”

      Same for Correctional facilities… pull staff out, let nature take its course…


  1. Robert Canning

    This is a misleading headline. Here is the definition of design capacity:

    Design capacity is the number of inmates a prison can house based on one inmate per cell, single-level bunks in dormitories, and no beds in places not designed for housing.

    This was the definition the Supreme Court used in its 2011 order reducing the system’s population. It is based on one inmate per cell. The courts and most experts recognize that this is not how prisons are run – double-celling is the rule rather than the exception. The court ordered that the department reduce its population to 137.5% of capacity, which it did in 2017 or so. In January 2020 the system was at 134% of capacity (see and would have stayed about that level but for COVID-19.

    As far as I know, “design capacity” is not a big issue. What’s more important is the disease. Getting the population down to a level where the disease can be safely managed and the inmates protected is the top priority. The population of the 35 prisons has been below 100,000 for over a month.

    Using the term “design capacity” to somehow criticize CDCR is misleading and does not really address the issue – COVID. The actual number of inmates housed is the real issue, not design capacity.

    1. Aparna Komarla

      Hi Robert,

      Thank you for the feedback.

      I understand that despite the population being over capacity, it is significantly lesser than its previous size. However, I do not think that design capacity and acceptable population sizes during COVID-19 are mutually exclusive measurements. The definition you provided on design capacity is close to an ideal environment in prisons and jails to handle COVID-19, which would resemble the result of population growth control.

      If I understand your comment correctly, you are suggesting that aiming to bring populations below design capacity and reducing populations regardless of capacity are somehow different. Can you clarify where the distinction lies?

      From the Habeas case against San Quentin (

      “We therefore recommend that the prison population at San Quentin be reduced to 50% of current capacity (even further reduction would be more beneficial) via decarceration; this will allow every cell in North and West Blocks to be single-room occupancy.”

      They reference design capacity and not population size initially, but later use the terms interchangeably. It possibly implies that the outcomes are close enough and do not need to be distinguished.

      I’d appreciate your thoughts and thank you once again for sharing feedback.


  2. Ron Glick

    I was sad to hear that Phil Spector died of Covid-19 while serving his time for murder. Despite the seriousness of his crime he produced of the  some great records of my youth.

  3. heidykellison

    The low staff percentage is problematic. People serving the public should be vaccinated, especially those serving vulnerable populations. Why is the number so low?

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