More than 14 percent of all inmates jailed in Los Angeles County are under quarantine orders, the Sheriff’s Department said Monday.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva said 1,724 inmates were quarantined. Inmates are quarantined, the sheriff said, if he or she might have had at least 10 minutes of contact with someone who is now isolated after showing a fever or other symptom.
So far, 19 have tested positive for COVID-19 with seven having recovered and been symptom free for at least three days.
Another 64 inmates were being isolated after they showed symptoms of coronavirus, either a temperature above 100.4 degrees or signs of an upper-respiratory infection.
No inmates have died. At least two custody assistants working in the jails are now on life support in a hospital, Villanueva said Monday.
One assistant was on a ventilator last week and had appeared to recover. But the assistant was placed back on a ventilator this week, Villanueva said.
The number of inmates under quarantined ballooned this week even as the total population of L.A. County’s jail system has plummeted during the last two months.
There were 12,269 inmates housed in jails across the county, according to statistics released Monday, nearly 30 percent less than at the beginning of the year.
L.A. County’s has the largest jail network in the country and usually holds around 17,000 inmates.
Villanueva said releasing inmates – as the Sheriff’s Department, the District Attorney’s Office and the courts have worked to do since the outset of the coronavirus outbreak – was necessary.
Villanueva said law enforcement in the county would continue to try and release more inmates to prevent a major outbreak behind bars.
“This is not just for the safety of the inmates, but all of the personnel who work in the jails,” he said. “We have thousands of people who work inside the jails.”
He said the number under quarantine could fluctuate.
“Sometimes (quarantines) happen hundreds at a time,” he said, explaining that an entire cell block is locked down when one inmate begins to show symptoms of the virus.
Inmates in isolation, placed in a jail hospital setting, must get two negative tests instead of just one to re-enter the general jail population.