Federal judge makes COVID-19 vaccination compulsory for all CDCR staff | New


The majority of staff at the Sierra Conservation Center (SCC) State Prison in Jamestown are unvaccinated, but a federal ruling on Monday mandating vaccination for all California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation employees could change that.

Dana Simas, CDCR state-level press secretary, said the state corrections service is evaluating the court order to determine its next steps.

“We do not agree with the finding of deliberate indifference, as the department has long embraced COVID-19 vaccinations, and we continue to encourage our staff, incarcerated population, volunteers and visitors to do so. vaccinate, ”she said in an email to The Democrats of the Union.

The decision was the result of a court-appointed receiver – a third-party guard who, in this case, manages the prison health system – calling for the vaccination of all state prison employees and inmates who work there. outside the prison or accept one in person. visitation.

Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state corrections union were the main opponents of the recommendation. U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar released his 22-page ruling on Monday.

“The defendants are aware of a significant risk of serious harm to those in prison and, although they have taken many laudable steps during this pandemic, they have nevertheless failed to reasonably reduce this risk as they refuse to do what the undisputed evidence requires “, specifies the judgment.

Simas and CSC spokesperson Ricardo Jauregui did not respond to questions regarding CSC employees’ response to the decision and whether some were planning to quit, sentiment about vaccinations among CSC staff, or whether the decision has led some to signal their intention to be vaccinated. .

The Sierra Conservation Center is behind the state in immunization measures for staff and inmates.

Out of 99,402 detainees in total across the CDCR, 76% are fully vaccinated and 2% partially. There are 3,363 inmates at the CSC, of ​​which 2,364 are fully vaccinated (70%) and 69 are partially vaccinated.

Of the 66,322 total employees across CDCR, 57% are fully vaccinated and 4% partially vaccinated versus 1,189 total employees in CSC, with 517 employees fully vaccinated (43%) and 42 partially vaccinated.

The CSC is ahead of only five other prisons out of 36 establishments in percentage of employees fully vaccinated, that is to say the sixth to last, excluding designations in the CDCR table which are not penitentiary establishments.

Statewide, there have been 50,763 total cases of COVID-19 among CDCR inmates – more than half the population – since the start of the pandemic and 201 cases in the past two weeks.

There are 206 active cases, 614 detainees released while actively infected and 240 who died from the virus, according to the CDCR.

Along with staff, there had been 20,610 cases of COVID-19 as of September 24 (a new update is scheduled for October 1), including 357 active cases and 39 deaths.

CSC has avoided a new wave since a widely publicized outbreak that may have been triggered by an infected employee, according to the Berkeley-based prison law office, which passed this information on to the KQED and did not respond to The Union Democrat for comments.

The Tuolumne County Public Health Department said there had been no new cases at CSC since September 11. There are currently no active cases and no deaths.

There have been 397 cases among staff, with 18 ongoing cases. There have been 23 new cases in the past 14 days.

CSC reported one death among staff on September 1. Prison is the third highest in new cases in the past 14 days and currently the third highest in active cases, but far from the bottom of the total number of cases.

Simas touted the early adoption of the COVID-19 vaccine by the CDCR, noting its deployment to staff and inmates late last year.

“Almost all incarcerated people have now been offered the vaccine, and those who have not been absent from institutions for legal proceedings or who are new to the system. More recently, (the CDCR has) offered third doses of the vaccine to immunocompromised incarcerated people in accordance with updated health guidelines, ”acknowledged the decision. “(The CDCR has) also offered the vaccine to on-site staff and has undertaken multiple efforts to encourage both staff and inmates to be vaccinated.”

Simas said that to date, around 99% of people in prison have been offered the vaccine.

Other public health orders have already obliged some CDCR employees to be vaccinated.

Under a July 26 order, CDCR staff must be fully immunized or tested at least once a week.

An August 5 ordinance would have ruled out the possibility of testing workers in certain health facilities and required them to be vaccinated or lose their jobs, but the CDPH clarified the next day that the ordinance did not apply to health facilities. health. within penitentiary establishments.

On August 19, the CRPD demanded “all paid and unpaid persons who are regularly assigned to provide health care or health services to detainees, prisoners or detainees”, and “[a]All paid and unpaid persons who are regularly assigned to work in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, intermediate care facilities or the equivalent who are integrated into the correctional facility or detention center in the areas where health care is provided “must be vaccinated before October 14.

However, the vaccine requirement does not apply to emergency personnel, overtime, exchanges and people who do not regularly work in the area, or emergency response teams.

Simas said the CDCR was “actively working” to comply with the CRPD order on time.

The Los Angeles Times said it received a statement from Newsom defending its position against mandatory vaccination for CDCR staff, citing it as touting the state’s low transmission rates and high vaccination rates.

Newsom then provided statistics similar to those of Simas who touted the CDCR’s response since the start of the pandemic.

The Los Angeles Times further noted that the California Correctional Peace Officers Association contributed $ 1.75 million to Newsom’s Recall Defense Fund and that the Service Employees International Union, “which represents approximately 12,000 prison employees, paid a combined $ 5.5 million to Newsom’s anti-recall campaign of its various residents.

The California Correctional Peace Officers Association told the Los Angeles Times through its spokesperson that it was “awaiting the CDCR’s plan for the implementation of the ordinance and the impact” on the 28,000 officers who ‘it represents.

The court ultimately found that the risk posed to inmates was a violation of the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution against cruel and unusual punishment, although the ruling still allows medical or religious exemptions.

The implementation plan, including a deadline by which all people must be vaccinated, must be submitted by October 11.

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