COVID-19 outbreak infects inmates, staff at Susanville’s two prisons

Lassen Cares hosts a Facebook Live Question and Answer at 6 p.m. today, Thursday, June 25 after a dramatic increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Lassen County.

Yesterday, Lassen Cares reported four inmates at the California Correctional Center tested positive — this morning that number soared to 63. As of the 5:38 p.m. Thursday update, Lassen Cares reports there are three active cases in the county, and nine recovered. For correctional institutions, there 76 cases at CCC and one at HDSP. (UPDATE: as of 8:45 a.m. Friday, June 26, there are 159 COVID-19 cases reported at CCC, and one at HDSP).

According to the CDCR website, one CCC employee has tested positive and five HDSP employees have tested positive as of June 25.

According to Richard Egan, public information officer for the Lassen County Incident Command Team, CDCR transferred four inmates from San Quentin State Prison to the California Correctional Center in Susanville. Those inmates originally tested negative for the virus, but they tested positive when tested at CCC.

According to a story published yesterday in the San Francisco Chronicle, in the past two weeks the number of infected inmates at SQSP increased from 48 to 456, raising concerns for the spread of the virus across the entire Bay Area by overwhelming the health care system there.

Now those concerns have come to roost right here in Susanville Lassen County. This morning Egan said more than 60 inmates at CCC have tested positive (76 according to Lassen Cares), and he expects that number to pass 100 once more test results are returned. The testing at CCC began once the four SQSP inmates tested positive. Egan said about half of 2,400 test results at the prison have been returned.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if that number is north of 100 by the end of the day,” Egan said. “They’re also testing staff, so we may have some results back on that.”

Also of concern is a CCC directive that any fire camp inmates who test positive will be transferred to CCC “and they’re going to use that as a COVID hub. We’re questioning why they would make that decision to take those people to a prison where they don’t have much capacity to do medical work and they’re going to rely on a health care system that is remote and limited. That’s a big concern.”


** The article was updated to include recent testing numbers.