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Caravan Rally against COVID-19 at California Men’s Colony takes place in San Luis Obispo

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Sara Ford
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Sara Ford
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Sara Ford

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - A crowd of community members gathered at Santa Rosa Park in San Luis Obispo Saturday morning to participate in a Caravan Rally for inmates incarcerated in the California Men's Colony.

The rally started around 11 a.m. Dozens of people showed up with brightly colored signs, shirts, masks and megaphones aiming to bring awareness to the COVID-19 outbreak in the SLO prison.

"Our loved one's are experiencing negligence and numbers are going up rapidly," said rally member Dora Pacheco.

The caravan rally created a list of demands for the prison which included releasing incarcerated people who are considered at-risk, elderly and those who have served a long sentence, being transparent with prison staff about the spread of the virus, supplying staff with personal protective equipment, and providing sanitizing fluid for proper cleaning inside.

The group also asked Secretary Ralph Diaz with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to allow prisoners tablets so that their loved ones can keep in touch with them easier during the pandemic.

The California Men's Colony released the following statement in response to the rally:

“From the inception of the COVID-19 pandemic, the California Men’s Colony (CMC) and the San Luis Obispo County Department of Public Health have worked proactively and tirelessly to protect the health and safety of CMC’s staff and incarcerated population. Together, we have implemented unprecedented protective measures in the face of a new virus, while operating a critical 24/7 facility in a safe and secure manner. Operating such a facility with its inherent constraints while being mindful of the affects COVID-19 has had on our communities and available resources has been challenging. However, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and the California Correctional Health Care Services system continue to meet these challenges head-on in order effectively mitigate the spread of COVID-19 within all CDCR institutions and within our surrounding communities.

Our staff are required to wear protective masks while on institution grounds, and are provided with personal protective equipment according to public health and health care guidance. We are conducting ongoing mandatory staff testing and surveillance testing of the incarcerated population to immediately identify a potential outbreak. CMC continues to provide its staff and incarcerated population with cleaning supplies that allow for the thorough cleaning and sanitation of all areas within the institution. The incarcerated population are provided protective masks they are required to wear, and hand sanitizer dispensers have been placed throughout the institution for staff and incarcerated persons to use. Frequent messages meant to remind the incarcerated population to socially distance are broadcast over the public address system. Additionally, CDCR has reduced the prison population by more than 18,000 incarcerated persons in order to implement increased physical distancing measures and maximize space for isolation and quarantine to quickly mitigate COVID-19 spread. We take the COVID-19 pandemic very seriously and will continuously adjust our response as new information and situations arise.”

California Men’s Colony

At this time, the California Men's Colony reports identifying 244 total cases of COVID-19 within their inmate population. 227 of those cases are currently active within the jail while five other active cases were released into the community. 12 individuals have recovered from the virus. Fortunately, the prison reports no deaths in connection to this outbreak.

The Men's Colony garnered attention after they saw a major jump in COVID-19 cases last week, surpassing 200. Since then, more than half of the 3,418 inmates at the prison have been tested for COVID-19.

For more information on COVID-19 in California prisons, click here.

Article Topic Follows: San Luis Obispo County

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Jessica Brest

Jessica Brest is a digital journalist and assignment editor for NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Jessica, click here.


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