‘Astronomical’ COVID-19 Increase at Santa Rita Jail Postpones Court Hearings


By Jake Romero and Anna Olsen

DUBLIN/OAKLAND, CA — An “astronomical” increase in positive COVID-19 cases at Santa Rita Jail is devastating proceedings in Alameda County Superior Court – many hearings, including sentencing and bail releases, are being rescheduled because of the quarantine status of those in custody.

At the East County Hall of Justice in Dublin Monday, Judge Michael Gaffey rescheduled the sentencing of Angel Shavers — for the second time — to next Tuesday because Shavers is currently in quarantine. The sentencing was first rescheduled from Dec. 29 to Monday because Judge Gaffey tested positive for COVID-19.

In November, a jury found Shavers, 22, guilty of organizing an illegal assault weapon sale during which her boyfriend shot and killed two men.

And, in Dept. 13 of the René C. Davidson Courthouse, a defense attorney Monday cited quarantine concerns as reason for her client’s bail hearing to be held today instead of tomorrow during his preliminary hearing.

“The only thing I’m a little scared about, your honor, is that Mr. West could be in quarantine,” said Assistant Public Defender Erin Herrera. “There’s been an astronomical increase in COVID [at Santa Rita Jail].”

Judge Morris Jacobson acknowledged there was a major increase in case numbers between last Wednesday and Thursday, but said there was a “mild” increase between Thursday and Monday.

According to the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, there are 217 positive COVID-19 inmate cases as of Jan. 9. The case total was 177 at the end of last week.

At the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse, Assistant Public Defender Amber Vincent requested an own recognizance release for her client who is in quarantine at Santa Rita.

PD Vincent said she was unable to properly communicate with her Spanish-speaking client because no interpreters agreed to accompany her to the jail, and a deputy had informed her that they would not move her client to a video visitation area given his quarantine status.

Judge Barbara Dickinson permitted the release request for PD Vincent’s client on a stay away condition.

There are currently more than 2,000 inmates at Santa Rita Jail, and roughly 1,300 are fully vaccinated as of Dec. 29, according to the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.


About The Author

Jake is a senior at UC Berkeley studying English & Journalism.

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