California Men’s Colony reports first inmate COVID-19 death

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An inmate at the California Men’s Colony (CMC) died on Sept. 1 of what staff say appear to be complications related to COVID-19, marking the prison’s first coronavirus death since an outbreak was first detected in late July.

CMC reported the inmate’s death in a statement released on Sept. 2, adding that the inmate died in a hospital outside of CMC. No further information could be released due to individual medical privacy, according to CMC.

OUTBREAK An inmate at the California Men’s Colony (CMC) died on Sept. 1 of what staff say appear to be complications related to COVID-19. - FILE PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • FILE PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • OUTBREAK An inmate at the California Men’s Colony (CMC) died on Sept. 1 of what staff say appear to be complications related to COVID-19.

The CMC inmate who died was one of hundreds of California prisoners who have tested positive for COVID-19 since March, despite efforts statewide to reduce prison and jail populations amid the pandemic.



CMC saw its first positive cases in late July and cases increased progressively over the following weeks. On Aug. 14, CMC reported 25 new cases of COVID-19 just after adding 50 the day before, bringing its total cases among inmates to 208, not including several staff who also tested positive.

Cases have tapered off since then, and as of Sept. 2, CMC reported having 110 active cases of coronavirus among inmates. Although Lt. John Hill, a public information officer for CMC, said he couldn’t comment on cases among staff, he said “fewer than 10” inmates are currently hospitalized due to COVID-19. There are 1,795 total staff and 3,310 inmates at the prison, he said.

Since the pandemic’s onset locally, Hill said CMC and the San Luis Obispo County Department of Public Health have worked together to best protect the health and safety of CMC’s staff and incarcerated population, through the implementation of various new COVID-compliant protocols. Those include masks, physical distancing, constant sanitation, and the release of more than 90 inmates.

“We take the COVID-19 pandemic very seriously,” Hill wrote in an email to New Times, “and will continuously adjust our response as new information and situations arise.” ∆

—Kasey Bubnash

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