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COVID Outbreak Hits San Diego-Area Jails

The San Diego Central Jail on Front Street, August 7, 2018.
Claire Trageser
The San Diego Central Jail on Front Street, August 7, 2018.

An outbreak of COVID-19 infections in San Diego-area jails this week left sections of the facilities under quarantine and prompted a suspension of public visits to inmates, officials reported Friday.

The rash of coronavirus cases at the regional detention centers came to light after several inmates reported flu-like symptoms, according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, which runs the facilities.

When those patients tested positive for COVID-19, the housing units to which they were assigned were placed under quarantine.


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Contact tracing and infection testing of 369 other inmates uncovered 73 more positive cases. Results of additional screenings in other jail housing units remained pending as of Friday afternoon.

The inmates who tested positive were checked for symptoms and "housed appropriately," according to sheriff's officials, who did not elaborate on those arrangements.

"The vast majority are either asymptomatic or have mild symptoms," the agency asserted in a public statement. "One positive (testing) inmate from this incident is currently at a local hospital, receiving care."

Inmates who test positive for COVID-19 in the county lockup facilities are isolated for a minimum of 14 days and monitored by medical staffers, officials said.


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Legally required release dates are not extended based on positive or pending coronavirus test results, and the county Department of Public Health follows up on inmates who are released before the findings of their coronavirus screenings are available.

To date, local jail officials have offered coronavirus vaccines to 13,627 inmates, according to the Sheriff's Department. Of those, 9,239 refused to be inoculated, and 4,388 accepted a combination of first and second doses.

Updates regarding in-person and video visitation to San Diego-area jails will be posted online at