Prison 34.03.18 SMIRNOFF (3).JPG

The entrance to CCI Tehachapi.

The California Correctional Institute in Tehachapi has reported 126 active cases of confirmed coronavirus in inmates as of July 1, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation website.

Of these cases, 97 were reported in the last 14 days alone. All 126 inmates are still testing positive for the virus, with zero cases of recovery or death.

"Prior to reporting its first positive test among the incarcerated population, CCI was conducting surveillance testing of the inmate population in an effort to immediately identify any potential COVID-19 exposure. As soon as a positive COVID-19 case was reported among the incarcerated population, CCI quickly moved to test all incarcerated persons at the institution," wrote Lt. Nadia Erwin, public information officer for the CCI, in a July 2 email.

According to Erwin, CCI is following isolation and quarantine protocols as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to address COVID-19 in correctional settings.

In addition, the CDCR reports that 27 staff members at CCI have tested positive for COVID-19, of which nine staff members have returned to duty.

According to the CDCR website, 1,283 inmates have been tested for COVID-19, or 402.9 inmates tested per 1,000 to date.

"Since the global coronavirus pandemic hit our community, CDCR and CCHCS have worked tirelessly to implement measures to protect staff, the incarcerated population, and the community at large. This includes the biggest reduction in prison population in recent history, which has been done in a manner consistent with public safety, and for the health and safety of the population and our staff," wrote Erwin.

According to Erwin, CDCR has reduced the overall incarcerated population by almost 10,000 inmates since March through an expedited transition to parole of 3,500 incarcerated persons, and a suspension of intake from county jails.

As of July 1, CCI is home to 3,708 felons and has a staff of 4,085.

"In an additional effort to meet this moment head-on, we are working to identify even more eligible persons for release, including those who have been identified as medically high-risk of complications of COVID-19," wrote Erwin.

Since March 18, staff has been conducting verbal and temperature screening of all those entering state prisons, providing access to hand sanitizer to staff and members of the incarcerated population, and strictly limited incarcerated movement to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 between housing facilities at the institutions.

Also, since April 21, all institutions have made programming adjustments such as providing staggered dining, phone calls, and showers to allow for physical distancing and proper disinfecting between each use. Sanitation and hygiene practices, including the availability of cleaning supplies to the incarcerated population, are being monitored and enforced across all institutions, prison officials said. Reusable cloth barrier masks have been distributed to each inmate and staff member and strict guidelines have been provided mandating their use while on institution grounds.

"There are currently two incarcerated persons from CCI receiving care at outside health care facilities," wrote Erwin.

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