11 staff, 1 inmate test positive for COVID-19 at Chino prison

Coronavirus
The California Institution for Men prison fence is seen on August 19, 2009, in Chino, California. (Michal Czerwonka/Getty Images)

The California Institution for Men prison fence is seen on August 19, 2009, in Chino, California. (Michal Czerwonka/Getty Images)

Eleven staff members and one inmate at the California Institution for Men in Chino tested positive for the novel coronavirus, officials said Wednesday.

Two additional staff members and three inmates have also been tested and are awaiting results, according to a San Bernardino County news release.

A total of 263 inmates in California have been tested, with eight confirmed cases, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s online tracker. Those numbers only refer to state prisoners and not inmates at county jails and other local facilities.

Six of the inmates who tested positive are at the California State Prison-Los Angeles County, one is at the California Institution for Men in Chino and one is at North Kern State Prison in Delano, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

There are also 27 CDCR employees throughout the state who have tested positive, including the 11 in Chino.

The 11 workers have been self-quarantined away from the prison, officials said.

Health professionals from the county’s public health department are working with the Chino prison and the California Department of Public Health to address the situation, including through testing and contact tracing.

On Tuesday, the CDCR announced measures to create increased capacity and space to help with physical distancing and isolation efforts.

The measures include the suspension of intake from county jails, visitation and inmate movement, as well as a reinforced commitment to hygiene. Meanwhile, inmates and civil rights advocates have raised concerns over the conditions inside California jails, saying that social distancing is impossible in crowded facilities, and cleaning supplies, including soap, are not readily available.

After visitations were temporarily barred last week to curb spread of the coronavirus, inmates were given access to free phone calls three times a week, as well as reduced prices for electronic messaging services to connect with their families.

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