Families with incarcerated loved ones at CMC demand changes amid COVID-19 spike

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Posted at 5:21 PM, Aug 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-22 20:27:55-04

Some families with incarcerated loved ones are demanding change at the California Men's Colony.

This comes after more than 200 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19. An additional 27 employees have also tested positive for the virus.

"I am worried about his health and his recovery to COVID-19," said Gloria Archuleta.

Her son, Martinez is one of the newer COVID-19 cases.

"I've called up there and I can't get no answers on how my son is doing," Archuleta explained.

On Saturday, he called while our cameras were rolling.

"They're building tents out here because I guess they're preparing for more and more cases that are going to come," Martinez explained. "They're clearing out buildings over here because people are getting sick."

Over the last 14 days, 127 new cases were confirmed at CMC. A total of 227 incarcerated individuals have tested positive for the virus.

"I got sick on the 6th and today is the 22nd or the 21st and I'm barely getting over it," Martinez said.

The first case at CMC was reported in April. There was a spike in May with less than a dozen cases. Just this month, the cases started trending upward into the dozens.

"It worries me," said Maria Moore. "It scares me. I'm checking that tracker every single day like it's already hard enough that I haven't seen him since March."

Moore's husband wrote her a letter claiming some inmates who were tested for the virus were moved to another living area before they got their positive test results back.

"They moved individuals that should not have been moved," Moore explained. "They were doing a great job and we were commending them for doing a great job and now all of a sudden it's just spreading like wildfire."

Families are asking that no more transfers take place. They're also asking that those who are at risk or elderly be released early, proper PPE for staff, and proper sanitizing products.

"We were told from the men inside that hand sanitizer is being replaced with water," Moore said.

"My husband was in there for two weeks," said Dora Pacheco. "I didn't hear from him. We didn't know what was going on. A lot of wives were just wondering what was going on so we just want transparency and a solution."

On Saturday, the California Men's Colony released this statement to KSBY:

“From the inception of the COVID-19 pandemic, the California Men’s Colony (CMC) and the San Luis Obispo County Department of Public Health have worked proactively and tirelessly to protect the health and safety of CMC’s staff and incarcerated population. Together, we have implemented unprecedented protective measures in the face of a new virus, while operating a critical 24/7 facility in a safe and secure manner. Operating such a facility with its inherent constraints while being mindful of the affects COVID-19 has had on our communities and available resources has been challenging. However, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and the California Correctional Health Care Services system continue to meet these challenges head-on in order effectively mitigate the spread of COVID-19 within all CDCR institutions and within our surrounding communities.

Our staff are required to wear protective masks while on institution grounds, and are provided with personal protective equipment according to public health and health care guidance. We are conducting ongoing mandatory staff testing and surveillance testing of the incarcerated population to immediately identify a potential outbreak. CMC continues to provide its staff and incarcerated population with cleaning supplies that allow for the thorough cleaning and sanitation of all areas within the institution. The incarcerated population are provided protective masks they are required to wear, and hand sanitizer dispensers have been placed throughout the institution for staff and incarcerated persons to use. Frequent messages meant to remind the incarcerated population to socially distance are broadcast over the public address system. Additionally, CDCR has reduced the prison population by more than 18,000 incarcerated persons in order to implement increased physical distancing measures and maximize space for isolation and quarantine to quickly mitigate COVID-19 spread. We take the COVID-19 pandemic very seriously and will continuously adjust our response as new information and situations arise.”