By Robert J. Hansen
Edward Johnson was the 76-year-old who died last Monday of COVID-19 while incarcerated at Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center (RCCC), according to his family.
KCRA 3 reported Tuesday that a vaccinated person incarcerated in Sacramento County died while in custody and was being treated for “multiple underlying health conditions” that were “long-term” and “significant.”
Johnson’s family said he was healthy when he was taken into custody in May and would be alive had it not been for the conditions at RCCC.
“I knew when I first heard it on the news it was Eddie,” Pearl Robertson, Johnsons’ sister said.
“I learned more from the news than I did from the jail or the hospital.”
Robertson said she wants to know why the family wasn’t contacted when Johnson was sent to the hospital.
“He was there a whole week and we did not know and then you sent a messenger to my brother’s house saying he died.”
Robertson wasn’t notified by any officials from RCCC, Public Health or Kaiser until Nov. 4, three days after he died.
“I was on the phone for three days trying to get information from RCCC, the coroner’s office, from Kaiser, from anybody I could call, and finally got something on Thursday,” Robertson said.
According to Sacramento County Public Health, Johnson was hospitalized on Oct. 25 due to low oxygen levels and he tested positive for the coronavirus. Health officials described his death as “related to COVID-19.”
Johnson’s eldest daughter, Simone Johnson, said her father sounded tired when she last spoke to him about a month ago and thinks her father did not receive the proper care within the jail.
“He should have been kept in the hospital and we should have been notified that he was given a blood transfusion and to see if he possibly could have been released,” Johnson said. “Where’s he going to go? He wasn’t a flight risk.”
Robertson believes her brother died because of the poor conditions inmates endure at RCCC as far as it relates to COVID-19, and said they were seeking the assistance of attorneys to file a lawsuit.
Simone Johnson said that her father would be alive had it not been for the conditions inside the jail. Most inmates are housed in barracks-style facilities that house up to 100 prisoners when not under quarantine.
The director of county health services told the Sacramento Bee that as of Nov. 2 there have been 191 confirmed COVID-19 cases within both RCCC and the main jail.
The director said that 95 percent of all jail staff, including correctional health staff, are vaccinated as of Nov. 2.
Public Health Officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye said in a statement that Public Health is working closely with Correctional Health staff to conduct contact tracing and mitigate the spread.
Quarantine protocols are in place and extensive testing is being done according to the statement.
The family has yet to retrieve the medical records from the hospital.
Robert J Hansen is an investigative journalist and economist.