Lompoc Prison, The Biggest Prison Covid Outbreak

Writer: Julia Gularte

Editor: Sophia Alexander

As many already know of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19 that has rapidly spread all around the world. In late February of 2020 people started to hear of the virus but at this point, many weren’t worried, then in early March things started getting serious. In the month of March the President of the United States had announced COVID-19 to be a national emergency and later turned into school closures all around the world, thousands of people left without jobs, as well as the stay at home order. By telling people to essentially “self-quarantine,” doctors were hoping that the less physical contact happening the less of a chance there would be of the virus spreading. 

But what do you think would happen in a place that holds about 1,500 people, with not much space to quarantine from others? This was the case for the United States Penitentiary Lompoc, like many other prisons in the country, the virus has spread throughout the prison and has infected many of the inmates as well as some of the staff members. Many of the inmates were worried about catching the virus and were telling their family members what their current conditions were like, sleeping in a room with more than 200 other people with only 3 feet between each person. 

The Lompoc prison had reported its first case of the virus on March 30th, this was three weeks after they had canceled any further outside visitations on March 8th. The staff workers had been given masks and gloves but these, unfortunately, did not stop the virus from spreading

“United States Penitentiary Lompoc, or USP Lompoc, possesses the second most COVID-19 cases among the 22 correctional institutions operated by the Bureau of Prisons (BOP),” wrote Tyler Hayden in an article for the Santa Barbara Independent. 

The President of the United States has said that he thinks the U.S. has “passed the peak” but the number of cases in the Lompoc Prison is increasing each week. In California, there have been 24,424 confirmed cases of COVID-19. In Santa Barbara County there have been 354 confirmed cases and more than 23 percent of those cases are from the inmates from the Lompoc Prison. 

“I think in the prison setting, people wearing masks aren’t going to stop the spread of the virus. It’s crazy how it got to the jail like it’s unfortunate that the staff workers got the virus and then brought it into the jail where almost everyone there is susceptible to getting it, inmates as well as other staff workers,” said freshman Miya Lehman. “But I think they should take extra precaution to keep the infected inmates separate from the rest, I guess make a quarantine within a quarantine.”

From the first reported case on March 30th, the number of people testing positive for COVID in prison have been steadily increasing. As of Wednesday, April 15th, there are 68 inmates in the Lompoc Prison that have tested positive for the virus. 13 of those inmates have been hospitalized and 2 have been moved into the ICU. As for the staff members, 25 have tested positive with one case in the hospital. Due to the close proximity that the inmates are being housed in there is no doubt that the number of cases in the prison won’t increase over time. Therefore, continuing to add to the total number of cases in the county.

 

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