State prison along California-Mexico border hotbed for COVID-19

Border Report Tour

Richard J. Donovan prison is located in South San Diego just north of the U.S.-Mexico border. (Courtesy: KSWB)

SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — In the last two weeks, more than 400 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 at Donovan State Prison located near the San Diego-Tijuana Border.

It’s considered one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in California’s state prison system.

The California Department of Corrections says there are 411 active cases inside Donovan. And that all but three have been diagnosed within the last two weeks.

Spokesperson for the California State Prisons Terri Hardy says the facility has activated an incident command post.

“To ensure immediate communication and coordination between operations, health care, and public health experts to address positive COVID-19 cases at the institution,” Hardy said.

According to Hardy, they have been testing the inmate population every week and that weekly staff testing is mandatory.

“The prison is also following isolation and quarantine protocols and health care guidance for inmates,” Hardy said.

Hardy added that none of the cases have proven fatal.

The California prison system has reported more than 30,000 cases and 101 deaths since March.

But in the past two weeks, about 8,400 COVID-19 cases have been recorded.

According to the San Diego Union Tribune, an unidentified employee at Donovan State Prison says previous outbreaks were generally limited to staff, but lax observance of safety rules and protective gear led to inmates getting sick.

The employee went on to say inmates that have tested positive are being housed in gyms to help prevent the virus from spreading further, and that testing has been widely implemented and more masks and other equipment are being distributed.

Coincidentally, Donovan State Prison is just down the road from the Otay Mesa Detention Center, a privately operated facility that houses mostly migrants awaiting asylum and/or other immigration cases.

According to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement website, there are eight active cases at the Otay Mesa Detention Center right now. Since the pandemic began, more than 200 people detainees and staff members have reportedly been diagnosed with the virus. One man died after getting COVID-19 at the facility.

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