Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Widespread Outbreak at Fresno County Prison

Widespread COVID-19 infections at Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga have resulted in one of the largest active outbreaks in California’s prison system.

More than 1,000 inmates and employees at the prison, located southwest of Fresno, have tested positive, a majority in the past two weeks. Currently, 652 incarcerated people and 153 staff members are infected. One person has died.

Sophie Hart, an attorney with the Prison Law Office, said prison medical officials have reported positive cases in nearly every yard of the prison, suggesting the pervasive spread of the virus throughout the facility. Medical officials believe the outbreak originated with prison staff.

“I think what this outbreak shows is that it’s incredibly difficult to control the virus in a prison and that the prisons are not going to be spared in this second wave of covid,” Hart said. “As the virus circulates in the community, it’s going to make its way into the prisons, and CDCR’s experience with the pandemic so far has shown that it’s very difficult for them to control it once it gets in.”

Aaron Francis, an information officer with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said the facility is testing employees and inmates weekly and isolating incarcerated people who are positive.

—Alexandra Hall (@chalexhall)

Copyright 2020 KQED