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Nearly 100 cases of coronavirus reported at Lompoc Prison, prison officials seek more help

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Posted at 7:45 AM, Apr 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-21 21:18:34-04

The Federal Correctional Complex (FCC) in Lompoc says they have been following state guidelines and CDC recommendations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The FCC Lompoc reported its first coronavirus case on March 26. As of Monday April 20, there are 96 coronavirus cases at the prison. Of those cases, prison officials announced the death of one inmate from the coronavirus on Friday April, 17. The institution says they continues to work with Santa Barbara County Public Health Officials and local hospitals to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 for both staff and inmates.

To help with the strain on hospitals FCC Lompoc is negotiating a contract for an on-site mobile hospital equipped with mobile beds and medical personnel. Officials with the institution say the mobile hospital will be stationed inside a decommissioned factory within the confines of the medium-security component of the complex, where the majority of COVID-19 cases are located. In preparation for the hospital installation, FCC Lompoc staff retrofitted 10 offices within the space to accommodate double-occupancy negative pressure rooms for the more serious cases.

Some of the safety precautions being taken by staff and inmates include cleaning/disinfecting; screening 100% of all personnel entering the institution, including symptoms and temperature checks; testing inmates when clinically indicated, following isolation and quarantine protocols, and providing clinical care for confirmed and suspected cases.

Prison officials say to further protect the public, all inmates released to the community are quarantined for 14 days and screened prior to their scheduled departure. For court orders requiring immediate release, inmates are screened prior to release.

The prison says they have an ample amount of Personal Protective Equipment for staff and inmates and they have received over 60 medical and non-medical staff resources to assist with security for the inmate population; clinical care, administrative oversight, and facility modifications for the mobile hospital.

To follow the Attorney General's directives, prison staff are identifying and reviewing inmates for release to home confinement. Inmates do not need to apply for home confinement consideration. Case management staff are reviewing all inmates to determine which ones meet the criteria established by the Attorney General.

On Tuesday, April 15, Congressman Salud Carbajal, alongside Senator Kamala Harris and Senator Dianne Feinstein, requested in a letter that the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to establish the mobile hospital and fulfill more personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff.

On Tuesday, April 21, a second letter from the state lawmakers was sent to BOP re-emphasizing the need for rapid action to provide medical equipment and care facilities at the Lompoc

"We are writing to you today to continue stressing the need for the BOP to move with urgency in establishing this facility with the necessary staff and equipment-including ventilators," wrote the lawmakers. "We recently heard that Lompoc USP is still not receiving sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE). We are also troubled to hear the BOP has not implemented a plan to protect its correctional officers and staff, who are also being exposed to COVID-19."

The lawmakers also address the near-doubling of the spread of coronavirus within the facility from the previous week. They also speak out about accounts of under-equipped prison staff sleeping in their vehicles to protect their families, as well as reports of an inmate being released without proper coronavirus care.

Click here for more updates from The Bureau of Prisons.