CDCR acknowledges HDSP inmate’s death ‘appears’ to be due to COVID-19 complications

An inmate from High Desert State Prison died Tuesday, Nov. 17 from possible complications of COVID-19, according to a statement from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation made in response to questions from Lassen News.

“An incarcerated person from High Desert State Prison died on Nov. 17 at an outside hospital from what appear to be complications related to COVID-19,” said Kyle Buis, a public information officer, health care communications for CDCR. “No additional information is being provided to protect individual’s medical privacy. This is the first incarcerated person assigned to HDSP to be identified as a COVID-related death.”

Buis also said the outbreak at the prison is not related to inmate transfers.

“The recent outbreak was not started due to a transfer, Buis said. “As community cases rise, so do those in our prison system.”


In fact, according to Buis, inmate transfers to the prison have not occurred since Nov. 7.

“HDSP was closed to intake on Nov. 7 and will remain closed for at least three weeks,” Buis said.

The public information officer also released information regarding the number of staff infections at HDSP.

“Our current positive staff count at HDSP is 48 as of Nov. 17,” Buis said. “Regular staff testing has increased from every two weeks to every week as the institution in response to the increase in positive test results.”

According to the statement, the prison also continues to test inmates.

“Mass testing of our population is also conducted, with 95 percent of the population tested in the past 14 days. If a patient tests positive, they are moved into isolation units immediately. CDCR and CCHCS are also increasing educational outreach efforts with the population on COVID-19 to help prevent further spread.”


And the prison has responded to the outbreak by utilizing additional staff and following isolation and quarantine procedures.

“Additional staffing is being provided to HDSP to supplement the institution’s response,” Buis said. “In accordance with CDCR and CCHCS protocols, spaces inside the institution are designated for isolation and quarantine. Physical distancing requirements remain in effect, and additional cleaning is taking place. Programming has been reduced in accordance with our Roadmap to Reopening.”