All inmates will now be tested for COVID-19 upon entry to jail, regardless of their vaccination status, Sonoma County officials said on Tuesday.
The county’s new health order is set to take effect on Oct. 1.
Under the order, all inmates at detention facilities throughout the county, including juvenile hall, will be tested in order to minimize the number of cases and protect both inmates and staff, county officials said.
“Detention facilities are particularly high-risk congregate settings because of close quarters. Inmates are exposed to many different staff and volunteers while in jail and may be required to move among different living modules, thereby increasing the possibility of COVID-19 transmission,” Sonoma County Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase said in a statement.
“The inmate population is at a substantial risk of severe illness, even if fully vaccinated, because they may have certain health conditions that make them vulnerable to severe consequences of COVID-19. Therefore, this order for testing applies to all inmates, regardless of their vaccination status,” she said.
The order was made in collaboration with the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department.
“We know that COVID can spread quickly in congregate living facilities, including jails,” Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick said. “Detention staff has been conducting voluntarily COVID testing for inmates when they arrive at our jail. This health order is an effective tool to ensure all inmates are tested.”
In the case that an inmate tests positive, they will be placed in isolation to quarantine.
Just last week, a Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office correctional lieutenant died due to complications from COVID-19. Lt. Bobby Travelstead, who had worked with the Sheriff’s Office since 2007, died at the hospital on September 1, sheriff’s officials said.