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Family of Donovan Correctional Facility inmate says more needed to protect inmates from COVID-19

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Posted at 10:47 AM, Jan 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-20 15:32:39-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Those with loved ones at the Donovan Correctional Facility say not enough is being done to protect inmates from COVID-19, but officials say they have made changes to slow down the spread.

Angela Cadena says she's worried about her husband, Feliciano, who's serving time at the Donovan Correctional Facility. She says he’s already tested positive for COVID-19.

"It’s difficult out here to social distance to get the proper care you need for COVID-19. Imagine being in the prison where health care is horrible, where social distancing is horrible," said Cadena. "They’re coming in sick. Doctors and nurses are coming in sick and they’re continuing to work. And they’re mixing the positive cases with negative cases.”

According to the state website, Donovan has had a total of 894 COVID-19 cases since March 2020, of that number 15 deaths.

It’s not just an issue here in San Diego, there have been tens of thousands of cases across correctional facilities in California.

ABC 10News reached out to officials from Donovan about this challenge and were given a statement saying in part:

"They’ve made changes to their program to limit movement of both staff and the population. Meals are delivered to housing units, recreation is controlled to prevent mixing housing units, and they’ve staggered schedules to allow for physical distancing and disinfecting."

The statement says they’re also doing mass testing of the population each week and requiring staff to be tested twice a week, something Cadena doesn’t believe.

A statement from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said that facilities will not release a patient from isolation until "sound medical judgment warrants such release."

"California Correctional Health Care Services—which is the agency that oversees health care within our institutions—will not release a patient from an isolation setting until sound medical judgment warrants such release. The release of a patient from medical isolation is laid out in the CCHCS algorithm outline here. These algorithms were developed by public health and health care experts and complies with all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the California Department of Public Health recommendations."

"No, they’re not testing and I can speak for my husband. My husband has been there three months and he’s only been tested once upon arrival. And when he tested positive he was quarantined and never tested again," Cadena said.

Donovan officials say they have also suspended in-person visits, instead offering only virtual visits until further notice.