Otay Mesa Detention Center worker tests positive for COVID-19

Posted at 5:50 PM, Mar 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-31 20:52:19-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A San Diego prison worker has tested positive for coronavirus, as California prepares to release 3,500 non-violent offenders.

CoreCivic, the private company that runs the Otay Mesa Detention Center, confirmed to 10News that an employee who works at the facility has tested positive for COVID-19.

The company discovered the positive test on March 30. The employee was last at work on March 21. That individual is currently resting at home in isolation.

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"Efforts are currently underway to notify other employees or contractors who may have been in contact with the individual who tested positive," a CoreCivic spokesperson said.

The confirmation comes the same day California officials announced the state would grant an early release to 3,500 non-violent offenders who are due to be released in the next 60 days. The move is in efforts to slow the spread of the virus through state prisons.

The plan will also see facilities maximize open spaces to increase capacity and inmate movement options, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

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“We do not take these new measures lightly. Our first commitment at CDCR is ensuring safety – of our staff, of the incarcerated population, of others inside our institutions, and of the community at large,” said CDCR Secretary Ralph Diaz. “However, in the face of a global pandemic, we must consider the risk of COVID-19 infection as a grave threat to safety, too.”

A CDCR release said prisons would begin new measures, including mandatory verbal and temperature screenings for staff, suspension of intake from certain county jails, suspension of visitations and access by volunteers, hygiene and educational measures, and physical distancing.

As of Monday, the CDCR says 22 employees and four inmates have tested positive for COVID-19.