Second Person in SF Jail Tests Positive for COVID-19

Office of the Sheriff
City and County of San Francisco

For Immediate Release
Sunday, April 19, 2020
Contact: Nancy Crowley (415) 238-5488

San Francisco Sheriff Paul Miyamoto confirmed today that a second asymptomatic person who has been in custody since Saturday, April 18, 2020, and isolated from the general population, tested positive for COVID-19.

”We are testing all people at booking who are housed in our jail,” said Sheriff Miyamoto. “This enables Jail Health Services (JHS) to identify asymptomatic people who are carrying the virus and keep them isolated from the general population until they test negative or are released from jail.”

“COVID-19 testing protects the people in our custody, our staff and the community,” said Sheriff Miyamoto. “Many of the people who are tested are released before their quarantine period has expired. They now know they are COVID positive and can take the necessary precautions to self-isolate, stay healthy and protect against spreading the virus.”

To guard against asymptomatic spread, the Sheriff’s Office began isolating newly arrested people in County Jail #2 on March 18, 2020, a day after San Francisco issued the shelter-in-place health order.

The Department of Public Health (DPH) is contacting all employees and others who were in contact with the individual who tested positive. The Sheriff’s Office is providing updates to all staff and justice-involved persons in the jails.

With one of the nation’s lowest incarceration rates, the county jail’s capacity is at a historic low with 725 people in custody today, down 36 percent from the average daily jail count in January 2020.

The Sheriff’s Office is operating under a COVID-19 emergency response and action plan, which is adjusted and amended to address public health and public safety needs. Steps already taken in the jail system include:

  • Suspending county jail visits on March 13, 2020 to protect people in our custody
  • Implementing aggressive, enhanced screenings at booking through our Jail Health Services to rapidly identify and isolate any persons with COVID-19 symptoms or exposure
  • Medically isolating sick and COVID-19 positive people in separate cells and dedicated housing pods at County Jail #2, which can house up to 21 percent of our population.
  • Housing people over 60 years old in single cells in a designated area.
  • Isolating newly arrested people in County Jail #2 to minimize contact with incarcerated people at County Jails #4 and #5.
  • Expediting early releases through the courts and working with our community partners to identify housing for people who are homeless.
  • Maintaining social distancing among the people in custody by reducing the jail count.
  • Cleaning and sanitization of jail cells and common areas multiple times per day.
  • Screening all employees with temperature checks and questionnaires prior to allowing them to enter work facilities.

During March 2020, the Sheriff’s Office reported five positive cases of COVID-19 among staff. No other staff have tested positive thus far.

The San Francisco Sheriff’s Department serves the people of San Francisco by administering the county jails, providing security for the Superior Court and other high-profile public buildings, and performing civil court orders. Led by elected Sheriff Paul Miyamoto, the Sheriff’s Department employs more than 850 sworn staff and almost 200 non-sworn employees.

Jail Health Services is a section of the San Francisco Health Network of the Department of Public Health that is dedicated to the health care of incarcerated adults in San Francisco. Jail Health Services employs 162 nurses, nurse practitioners, doctors, behavioral health clinicians, dentists and support staff.