The number of Monterey County Jail inmates infected with Covid-19 grew from 130 active cases on Sept. 17 to 186 as of Wednesday, Sep. 22, out of a total jail population of 883, according to the jail's online data tracker. The number of hospitalized inmates grew from one to three.
The Monterey County Sheriff's Office, which is responsible for the jail, announced an outbreak on Sept. 13 that included 51 inmates, 16 deputies and five contractors. A few days later that number jumped to 130 inmates infected, with one additional deputy and no changes to the number of contractors who tested positive.
The number of infected deputies and contractors has not changed, and some of the deputies who were out sick have since recovered and returned to work, according to Cmdr. Derrel Simpson.
To control the outbreak the jail ceased all in-person visitation as of Sept. 13, including attorneys meeting with clients. Court appearances were switched back to virtual, as was done earlier in the pandemic.
Other protocols to suppress an outbreak followed since the start of the pandemic never ceased, such as wearing masks and testing inmates during intake and keeping them sequestered for the first week, Simpson says. After the week's observation, they are tested again before being released into the general jail population.
Simpson says jail officials are doing everything they can to limit the outbreak, but the numbers will likely grow since by the time one inmate tests positive they've already exposed every inmate on the unit of about 90 inmates.
Monterey County Health Officer Edward Moreno said on Wednesday during a press briefing that the Health Department recommends that testing frequency be increased in situations like those at the jail to catch any asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic cases which could result in unknowingly spreading the virus. Simpson says they have not increased testing yet, but will if directed by the Health Department.
Despite the jail's outbreak, Moreno said overall Monterey County's case numbers are on a consistent downward trend, despite day-to-day fluctuations that show more cases added. The latest case rate is 8.5 cases per 100,000 residents.
It remains a pandemic of the unvaccinated, however: the case rate for them is 20.5 cases per 100,000 residents; it's only 0.6 for vaccinated residents.