Explore latest data and updates on COVID in California’s county jail system

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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. 

As of September 4th, Alameda, Butte, Orange, and San Francisco Counties are currently recording their lowest numbers of active cases (for incarcerated & staff populations) since the Spring. Jails in Butte and Santa Clara counties have especially low counts, with 0 and 1 cases, respectively. Sacramento, San Diego, and Santa Clara counties comparably have more active cases, recording between 30 and 40 this week, as they continue to recover from recent outbreaks this summer. 

Vaccination rates are still not consistently available across California’s jails, but several counties such as San Francisco and Santa Clara boast nearly fully vaccinated jail staff populations. Within the incarcerated populations, however, vaccination rates remain relatively low. In Alameda and Sacramento Counties, for example, only 24% of incarcerated individuals have received the vaccine. The highest vaccination rates can conversely be found in Santa Clara and San Francisco counties, with 50% and 48% of the population fully vaccinated, respectively, though this is still considerably low compared to staff rates.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is still enforcing mandatory testing for unvaccinated jail staff, as well as mandatory vaccinations and boosters for medical staff (see below for more details). Sacramento, San Diego, and Butte Counties have not released any data on compliance rates with these orders, while Alameda and Santa Clara are the only counties to release testing compliance rates. Medical staff vaccination rates in Alameda, Orange, San Francisco, and Santa Clara all range between 85% and 100% in accordance with the state order.

In addition to state health orders, the San Francisco Department of Public Health and Santa Clara County Public Health Department both mandate that all jail staff receive the vaccine and booster as of March 2022. While both counties are mostly compliant, only 64% and 74% of staff in San Francisco and Santa Clara county jails have received the booster. 

Alameda County

  • Incarcerated Population
    • As of September 8th, there are 3 active cases among the population of 2,196 incarcerated individuals. Overall, rates have continued to decline since August 1st, when there were 28 active cases.
    • Still, only 508 individuals, or 24% of the incarcerated population is fully vaccinated, while 9% has received the booster shot. 
  • Jail Staff
    • Cases among Alameda County’s jail staff have also declined since earlier in the summer, when there were 18 active cases. As of September 8th, there are now 4 active cases.
    • Vaccination rates are significantly higher than those reported for the incarcerated population, as 69% of jail staff are now fully vaccinated. In addition, 75% of the sheriff’s office is fully vaccinated.
    • 92% of medical staff are fully vaccinated and 85% are boosted in accordance with the state vaccine mandate. In the last cycle, there was also an 82% compliance rate in accordance with the CDPH mandatory testing requirement for unvaccinated staff.

Butte County

  • Incarcerated Population
    • Out of 531 incarcerated individuals, there are 0 active cases in Butte County jails as of September 6th. This low has remained consistent since August 16th.
    • Vaccination rates for the incarcerated population is currently unavailable.
  • Jail Staff
    • Butte County only releases COVID related data for the Sheriff’s office, where there are currently 2 active cases. Rates have consistently declined since early August’s peak of 10 active cases.
    • Similar to the incarcerated population, Butte County has not revealed vaccination rates for any staff.

Orange County

  • Incarcerated Population
    • As of September 6th, there are 6 active cases within Orange County’s incarcerated population. This is the lowest number of active cases recorded since the onset of data collection in early July. Overall, rates have rapidly declined since August 15th, when there were 46 cases. 
    • Data on vaccination rates is not available for Orange County.
  • Jail Staff
    • Though the number of active cases among jail staff is not available, 70% of jail staff are currently fully vaccinated, and 34% are boosted. In addition, 95% of medical staff are fully vaccinated and 92% are boosted in accordance with state health mandates.

Sacramento County

  • Incarcerated Population
    • Sacramento County jails report a higher number of cases among the incarcerated population. As of August 31st, there are 38 active cases out of a population of 3,306. Despite this, the number of cases have declined since the outbreak in mid-August, when 162 positive cases were reported. 
    • Vaccination rates remain low, with 794 individuals, or 24% of the incarcerated population having been fully vaccinated. 
  • Jail Staff
    • No COVID related data is currently available for jail staff.

San Diego County

  • Incarcerated Population
    • As of September 6th, there are 37 active cases out of the entire incarcerated population of 4,107. This is a substantial decrease since the outbreak in early August, when there was a high of 71 active cases, but rates have continuously fluctuated in the past month.
    • 1,318 individuals, or 33% of the incarcerated population is currently vaccinated, and 10% have received the booster shot. 
  • Jail Staff
    • No recent data on jail staff is available, but San Diego County reports that 61% of the Sheriff’s office is fully vaccinated. 

San Francisco County

  • Incarcerated Population
    • San Francisco County has shown major improvements in the number of active cases since its last outbreak in late July. As of September 7th, there is only 1 active case out of the county’s 838 incarcerated individuals.
    • In terms of vaccination rates, 48% of the incarcerated population is fully vaccinated, and 31% is boosted. 
  • Jail Staff
    • San Francisco County has only shared data on the Sheriff’s office, where there are 11 active cases as of September 6th. The number of active cases among this population has consistently fluctuated in the past several months, but has recently begun to decline.
    • Currently, 99% of jail staff are fully vaccinated and 64% are boosted. Similarly, 99% and 98% of medical staff and the sheriff’s office are fully vaccinated, respectively. These are the highest vaccination rates out of all state counties for which data is available.

Santa Clara County

  • Incarcerated Population
    • As of September 1st, there are 37 active cases in Santa Clara County jails. This demonstrates an improvement from the 61 cases reported in July, but trends reveal more fluctuations in the past 2 months.
    • 50% of the incarcerated population is fully vaccinated, and 39% is boosted.
  • Jail Staff
    • Santa Clara County only reports active cases within the Sheriff’s office, where there are 15 active cases as of September 1st. Overall, cases have been declining since late June.
    • Santa Clara County also demonstrates high vaccination rates. 97% of jail staff are currently fully vaccinated, and 74% have received the booster shot.
    • Only 86% of medical staff have been fully vaccinated in compliance with the CDPH vaccine mandate. Additionally, the last testing cycle revealed an 87% compliance rate with state testing mandates.

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.

Data 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”

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. View BSCC data here: http://www.bscc.ca.gov/covid-19-data-dashboard-landing-page/

By Madeleine Malin

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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 “Explore latest data and updates on COVID in California’s county jail system”

  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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