SANTA ANA, Ca. (June 19, 2020) – The Orange County Sheriff’s Department Custody Operations Division and OC Health Care Agency’s Correctional Health Services (CHS) have worked collaboratively to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 within the Orange County jail system. Active COVID-19 positive cases in OC Jails have decreased 97% in the last month, while new cases of COVID-19 in Orange County have continued to rise during the same time period.
In just over one month, the efforts of both agencies’ personnel reduced COVID-19 cases from a height of 220 on May 11 to just six remaining cases today. All six active COVID-19 cases are the result of new bookings into the jail, which were identified as part of the jail’s new booking quarantine policy to prevent intra-facility spread of the virus. There have been no intra-facility COVID-19 transmissions among inmates during the last 28 days, which is demonstrative of the advanced planning and procedural changes put in place months ago to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within the OC Jail system.
The first case of COVID-19 in the Orange County Jail was diagnosed on March 24, 2020. To date, 1,804 COVID-19 tests have been administered to OC Jail inmates with 389 total positives (383 inmates have fully recovered.) The majority of the COVID-19 positive inmates were asymptomatic, and just two inmates required hospitalization and have recovered.
Working collaboratively with the CHS team, the Department implemented a series of changes to practices and procedures to mitigate the spread of the virus. Beginning in April, all new bookings into the Orange County Jail are quarantined from the general population for a minimum of 14 days. To help prevent the spread of the virus from the community into our jails, all quarantined inmates, including all new bookings, are tested before being integrated into general housing. Also, any inmate exposed to a COVID-19 positive person is medically quarantined and monitored for symptoms. If any inmate exhibits COVID-19 symptoms, they are also isolated and tested.
The Department suspended jail visiting and programs on March 16, 2020. The Department is working diligently to recommence jail visiting and programs while maintaining the health and safety of employees, inmates and visitors.
“We have made a concerted effort to eliminate COVID-19 in our jails with early intervention, coordinated communication, and early implementation of CDC best practices,” said Sheriff Don Barnes. “I am proud of the men and women, both our Department and Correctional Health Services, who courageously came to work everyday and entered an environment with positive COVID-19 cases. Without their collective efforts and commitment to their profession, we would not have been successful.”