New COVID Outbreak Reported in Alameda County’s Santa Rita Jail, after Weeks of Declining Cases

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This report is written by the Covid In-Custody Project which 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. Visit our website to view and download our data on cases, testing, releases and vaccinations for incarcerated people and staff. 

Here’s a summary of the existing health orders issued by the CA Department of Public Health (CDPH) for correctional facilities:

  • Mandatory testing for unvaccinated jail staff: Issued in July 2021 (full compliance was required by August 2021). All sheriff’s office members working in correctional facilities must report their vaccination status to HR/administration, and unvaccinated members must undergo weekly surveillance testing.
  • Mandatory vaccinations and boosters for jail medical staff: Issued in August 2021 (updated in December 2021 and February 2022). All medical staff members working in correctional facilities must get vaccinated and boosted  by March 1, 2022. Non-medical staff working in medical settings are also subject to the requirement.

In addition to these state-wide orders, local public health officers have issued their own county-wide orders highlighted below. If sheriff’s offices are in compliance, data on positive cases, testing and vaccination rates should be readily available, but this is often not the case. Our report below provides the latest data (compiled from sheriff’s office websites and public records requests) on COVID-19 in Northern CA’s county jails.

1. Alameda County

Incarcerated Population

Cases and testing update:

  • As of May 19, there are 22 active COVID-19 cases in Santa Rita Jail (SRJ). 
  • Three individuals were released from custody in the past week whilst having an active infection.

Population update:

  • There are 2186 people in custody. The population has been relatively constant over the past 3 months. The number of individuals pending transfer to CDCR has dropped significantly from 170 in early 2021 to 70 this year.
  • SRJ has 166 medically vulnerable “orange” patients and 4 “red” patients with COVID symptoms. “Orange” patients are healthy but considered at increased risk for developing complications associated with COVID-19 according to the jail’s Outbreak and Control Plan. “Red” patients have not tested positive either because they refused testing or are awaiting their test results.

Vaccination update:

  • As of May 13, 28.5% of the jail population is fully vaccinated.

Housing unit quarantine update:

  • HU 9C, HU 9F, HU 25AB (upper and lower), and HU 33BCDEF are under quarantine due to individuals testing positive. 
Staff

Cases and testing update:

  • There are 7 active positive staff/contractor cases according to the sheriff’s office. A total of 464 staff/contractor cases were reported during the pandemic, 457 of which have recovered.
  • In the week of Feb. 19, 87% of SRJ’s unvaccinated employees were tested in accordance with the CDPH’s weekly testing requirement for unvaccinated staff. In the latest testing cycle, out of SRJ’s 1260 staff members, 858 were fully vaccinated and another 101 were exempt from testing since they did not work a shift at the jail. 
  • Prior to the state’s order, in March 2021, the public health department in Alameda County had mandated testing for all staff regardless of their vaccination status. Compliance information with this order is accessible here

Vaccination update:

2. San Francisco County

Incarcerated Population

Cases and testing update:

  • As of May 10, there are 2 active COVID-19 cases in custody, out of 414 total confirmed cases. Since April, 1 new case was identified during the intake booking process or in custody.

Population update: 

  • 237 individuals were booked into custody in the last week. Throughout the pandemic, the jail population had consistently stayed between 750 to 850 people, although there were 21,609 bookings in total. Currently, there are 771 people in custody.

Vaccination update:

Quarantine and Isolation update:

  • As of May 5, there are 11 people in medical isolation, an increase of 3 since last week, and 163 people in quarantine, an increase of 116 since last week. 

Releases Update:

  • Since the pandemic emerged, a total of 378 cases out of 414 confirmed cases have been either released while positive or released after recovery. 
Staff

Cases and testing update:

  • There is an outbreak of 20 active cases in the sheriff’s office. Throughout the pandemic, a total of 367 staff cases have been identified through testing at sites managed by the public health department. 15 tests were administered at these sites last week.
  • No information is available on the county’s compliance with the CDPH’s weekly testing requirement for unvaccinated employees.
  • Similar to Alameda County, in March 2021, the San Francisco public health department issued a mandatory testing order for the sheriff’s office. 

Vaccination update:

  • As of June 2021, according to data retrieved via public records request, only 59% of sworn custody staff in the sheriff’s office are fully vaccinated. This number does not include civilian custody staff or other sheriff’s office employees who work at the jails on mandatory overtime or other assignments.

3. Yolo County

Incarcerated Population

Cases and testing update:

  • As of April 7, there are no active COVID-19 cases in the Monroe Correctional Center. Since the pandemic emerged, 17 positive cases were released from custody whilst having an active infection.
  • Yolo County’s first confirmed positive case in custody was identified on September 7, 2021 (reported September 8, 2021). Subsequently, mass testing revealed another 14 positive cases, according to the sheriff’s office.

Population update:

  • In March 2021, the jail population was 210. Since the start of the pandemic it has remained relatively stable between 180 and 240 people. 

Vaccination update:

  • The vaccination rate for the incarcerated population has not been made publicly available
Staff

Cases and testing update:

  • The sheriff’s office does not report the number of positive cases or tests for staff members

Vaccination update:

4. Sacramento County

Incarcerated Population

Cases and testing update:

  • As of May 18, there are no active cases in the main jail or the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center (RCCC). 
  • Between October of last year to the present day, the sheriff’s office reported three COVID-related deaths in custody. In February, they reported that an unvaccinated 51-year-old male with multiple ongoing long-term medical conditions had died after being hospitalized for two weeks. 
  • 404 new tests were administered to new books and residents between May 11 to May 18, meaning that 11.62% of the total population was tested. Since the population is constantly changing with new bookings, releases, and transfers, this percentage may be an overestimate.
  • Between May 8 and May 14, the Juvenile Detention Facility (JDF) reported no positive cases after testing 17 youth or 13.82% of the population. Since the week of April 30, testing has increased by 6.25%. 

Population update:

  • There are 3,476 people in custody at the main jail and RCCC — an increase of 71 since May 11.  

Vaccination update:

Staff

Cases & testing update:

  • No information is available on the county’s implementation or compliance with the CDPH’s weekly testing requirement for unvaccinated employees.
  • Throughout the pandemic, the sheriff’s office has not reported any data on positive cases, testing or vaccinations for their employees.

Vaccination update:

5. Santa Clara County

Incarcerated Population

Cases and testing update:

  • As of May 18, there are 4 active COVID-19 cases in Santa Clara County’s main jail and Elmwood Correctional Complex.
  • There have been a total of 1825 cases since April 2020, of which 588 were confirmed during booking and 1237 were confirmed in custody. The 14-day average for new cases per day is now at .43.
  • 66,023 tests have been completed thus far, of which 1869 came back positive. The 14-day average test positivity rate is now at .46%

Population update:

  • There are 2608 people in custody. The population has increased by 300 people since January, after months of declining numbers in 2020 and 2021.
    • The population has consistently stayed within the 2500s but has ventured into the 2600s briefly

Vaccination update: 

  • The jail vaccination rate was obtained via public records requests since the sheriff’s office does not make it publicly available. As of July 2021, 42.5% of the current population is fully vaccinated.
Staff

Cases and testing update:

  • There are currently 19 active cases among staff in the sheriff’s office. Out of 136,039 tests that have been completed so far, 878 cases were identified. 
  • In November 2020, the health officer for Santa Clara County issued a mandatory testing order for all workers and staff who enter the jail’s premises including public defenders, probation staff, sheriff’s office employees, medical workers, etc. Information on compliance with this order and the CDPH’s weekly testing requirement for unvaccinated employees is not available.

Vaccination update:

Sources:
View and download raw data here: www.covidincustody.org/data -> View and download data.
Read reports on data, policies and protocols: www.covidincustody.org/reporting -> County Jails -> “County Name”
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 or data on vaccination uptake.
http://www.bscc.ca.gov/covid-19-data-dashboard-landing-page/

By Aparna Komarla, Anumita Alur, Yu Na Choi, Sophia Juliana-Baltasar, Alexander Ramirez

Contact: Aparna Komarla (apkomarla@ucdavis.edu)

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About The Author

Aparna Komarla leads the Covid In-Custody project, which partners with the Davis Vanguard to bring reporting on the pandemic's impact on county jails and CDCR to the public eye. See www.covidincustody.org for more information.

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3 thoughts on “New COVID Outbreak Reported in Alameda County’s Santa Rita Jail, after Weeks of Declining Cases”

  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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