COVID cases rise in Bay Area county jails and sheriff’s offices but vaccination rates remain low

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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 some of Northern CA’s county jails.

1. Alameda County

Incarcerated Population

Cases and testing update:

  • As of July 19, there are 10 active COVID-19 cases in Santa Rita Jail (SRJ). 
  • Two individuals were released from custody in the past day whilst having an active infection.

Population update:

  • There are 2182 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 152 medically vulnerable “orange” patients and 1 “red” patient 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 July 14, 25% of the jail population is fully vaccinated.

Housing unit quarantine update:

  • HU 8BE, HU 9D, HU 21D, HU 22A, HU 32ABC, HU 33DEF, and HU 35DEF are under quarantine due to individuals testing positive. 
Staff

Cases and testing update:

  • There are 8 active positive staff/contractor cases according to the sheriff’s office. A total of 563 staff/contractor cases were reported during the pandemic, 555 of which have recovered.
  • In the latest testing cycle, 84% of SRJ’s unvaccinated employees were tested in accordance with the CDPH’s weekly testing requirement for unvaccinated staff. Out of SRJ’s 1325 staff members, 938 were fully vaccinated and another 105 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 July 19, there are 21 active COVID-19 cases in custody. Since June, 77 new cases have been identified during the intake booking process or in custody.

Population update: 

  • 232 individuals were booked into custody in the last week. Throughout the pandemic, the jail population has mostly stayed within the range of 750 to 850 people, although there were 23,535 bookings in total. Currently, there are 789 people in custody.

Vaccination update:

Quarantine and isolation update:

  • As of July 14, there are 89 people in medical isolation and 230 people in quarantine, which is a 25 person increase and 19 person decrease respectively from last week.

Releases update:

  • Since the pandemic emerged, a total of 450 cases out of 515 confirmed cases have been either released while positive or released after recovery. 
Staff

Cases and testing update:

Vaccination update:

  • In December 2021, the public health department in San Francisco mandated vaccinations and boosters for staff in correctional facilities. 
  • As of June 2022, according to data retrieved via public records request, 99% of all county jail staff in the sheriff’s office are fully vaccinated but only 63% have received a booster dose. The remaining staff members are eligible for boosters but have not taken them. Across the entire sheriff’s office, 98% of employees are fully vaccinated and 64% have received a booster dose.

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 July 6, there are no active cases in the main jail and 12 active cases in 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. 
  • 689 new tests were administered to new books and residents between July 7 to July 13, meaning that 19,69% 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 July 3 and July 9, the Juvenile Detention Facility (JDF) reported no positive cases after testing 22 youth or 17.60% of the population. Since the week of July 2, testing has increased by 29.41%. 

Population update:

  • There are 3,500 people in custody at the main jail and RCCC — a decrease of 14 since July 6.  

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:

Population update:

  • There are 2707 people in custody. The population has increased by 300 people since January, after months of declining numbers in 2020 and 2021.

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 April 2022, 49.6% of the current population is fully vaccinated. Some of these patients may have also received the booster dose.
Staff

Cases and testing update:

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, Anjali Govindapaniker, Yu Na Choi, Sophia Juliana-Baltasar, Alexander Ramirez

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About The Author

The Covid In-Custody Project partners with the Davis Vanguard to report on the pandemic's impact on California's county jails and state prisons. See www.covidincustody.org for more information.

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3 thoughts on “COVID cases rise in Bay Area county jails and sheriff’s offices but vaccination rates remain low”

  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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