Cal City prison interior TNI file photo.jpg

The interior of the state prison in California City, which has been operated by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation since 2016.

An outbreak of COVID-19 at the California City Correctional Facility has prompted officials to significantly restrict movement, programming and visitation at the facility, according to a spokesperson for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

The June 10 report of confirmed COVID-19 cases among individuals incarcerated at CDCR facilities had the California City prison at the top of the list with 323 active in-custody cases — a full third of 951 cases among the state's 34 adult prisons.

In-person visiting was closed throughout the state prison system on Friday, June 10, to allow staff to receive mandated training, but this was unrelated to the outbreak at California City. However, the prison there is considered to be in "Outbreak Phase," along with all or part of 11 others in the state.

Dana Simas, CDCR press secretary, said all institutions are closely following the department's Roadmap to Reopening, which follows guidance from the federal receiver for prison health care and public health, and significantly restricts movement, programming and visitation at facilities experiencing a current outbreak.

The prison in California City was built by Corrections Corporation of America (now known as CoreCivic). Since late 2016 it has housed CDCR prisoners and been operated by CDCR staff. The Level II prison consisting of three facilities and an administrative segregation housing unit had a population of 2,016 incarcerated persons as of June 8.

It is one of five state prisons located in Kern County. As of June 10, North Kern State Prison had 33 inmate cases, Wasco State Prison had 14, Kern Valley State Prison had six and the California Correctional Institution at Tehachapi had four.

Among prisons statewide, the facilities with the next highest number of inmate cases on June 10 were California State Prison Solano in Vacaville with 97 cases, California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo with 81 cases, Mule Creek State Prison in Amador County with 77 cases and the Central California Women's Facility in Madera County with 56 cases.

Nearby, at Lancaster, the California State Prison Los Angeles County had only two active inmate cases on June 10.

Active reported cases among staff at California City on June 10 were surprisingly low. In fact, with eight active staff cases, the prison tied with Chuckawalla Valley State Prison in Riverside County for the lowest number of staff cases. The highest number of staff cases was reported at the California Men's Colony (79). At CCI, 21 active staff cases were reported.

Simas did not comment on what may have triggered the significant increase in COVID-19 cases at the California City prison.

"CDCR and CCHCS have been taking ongoing steps to protect those who live in, work at, and visit our state prisons against COVID-19," she said.

Simas added that CDCR’s vaccination program has resulted in the full vaccination of 75 percent of the incarcerated population and 62 percent of staff at the California City prison, noting that “is a significant increase from the fall.

“We have also made tremendous progress in administering boosters to all eligible incarcerated persons and staff who wish to receive the booster,” she said.