Covid-19 on the rise again in California prison system

Robert J Hansen

Sacramento, Calif.- by Robert J Hansen

Covid-19 is rising again inside the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) system according to a statement from the department.

The memorandum titled COVID-19 Mandatory 15-Day Modified Program provided direction to institutions regarding a statewide modified program that will be in effect from January 9, 2022, through January 23, 2022.

But due to the continued rise in COVID-19 cases throughout California and within CDCR prisons, that program is being extended through Sunday, February 6, 2022.

There have been 8,257 new cases of Covid-19 in the last 14 days according to CDCR tracking data. There have been 62,743 cases since the pandemic started.

CDCR says it is continuing to evaluate the current operations to reduce staff and population exposure to the Coronavirus by minimizing population movement throughout the state.

But Rickey Godfrey, a prisoner at California State Prison Solano, said that’s not happening.

“People can go anywhere so everyone is in close contact,” Godfrey said. “They are only separating where people sleep.”

Godfrey thinks inmates and staff have brought Covid-19 into the prison. 

“They went out to go to work and they came back bringing Covid in here,” Godfrey said.

Godfrey said that he has heard of roughly five other buildings with prisoners that have Covid-19. 

Godfrey thinks the buildings need to be quarantined and new inmates need to stop being brought in.

“They need to stop moving people around and bringing new people in,” Godfrey said.

Approximately eight inmates have tested positive from Godfrey’s building which houses up to a maximum of 200 men but currently has about 130 prisoners.

Rickey said that an RN named Encina told him he didn’t care about his and everyone’s health.

“People are testing positive who have gotten moved in the cells and not cleaning them,” Godfrey said.

Godfrey is fully vaccinated and has gotten a booster shot.

In his building, about 105 prisoners are vaccinated and 17 are not vaccinated according to prison records available to inmates.

According to CDCR reports, 71% of staff is fully vaccinated and 81 % of inmates are fully vaccinated. My health and safety is more important than that

Currently, registry providers, contractors, and applicable retired annuitants have been allowed to remain non-compliant with vaccination, booster, and testing mandates but the assignment allowing for that ends on February 2, 2022.

On November 27, a federal appeals court blocked an order requiring all prison workers to be vaccinated against Covid-19 by January 12. The appellate court has postponed the deadline until March when the next hearing will occur.

At institutions experiencing an outbreak where the number of COVID positive patients exceeds 200 or the number of patients who should be quarantined exceeds the number of beds set aside decisions about post-exposure quarantine and housing shall be committed to the discretion of the warden and CEO of their institution in consultation with CDCR and CCHCS regional and headquarters according to a statement by the CDCR.

Out of 35 CDCR prisons, 11 have more than 200 prisoners that have Covid-19. Solano has 118 total cases according to CDCR data.

There are 4981 active cases of infected staff as of January 21, 2022. There have been a total of 32,843 staff Covid-19 infections throughout the pandemic according to the CDCR.

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Robert J Hansen is an investigative journalist and economist. Focused on holding elected officials, police and the courts accountable to the people throughout the greater Sacramento area.

Sacramento County, CA

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