The Avenal State Prison now has the second highest number of COVID-19 cases among the state’s correctional facilities. The prison reported 198 cases as of Tuesday.
No visitors have been allowed at the prison for months, said Kings County Supervisor Doug Verboon. He said he thinks a staff member had the virus.
“Mother’s Day weekend, everybody went home to their mom’s house, had barbecues or whatever. Seven days later we got a spike in the prisons ‘cause someone brought it into the prison,” said Verboon.
Prison officials reported the first cases last week and notified the county. But according to Verboon, the prison didn’t follow the state guidelines the county suggested.
“We went in there and tried to make some corrections and they refused to listen to us and now we have a bigger outbreak,” said Verboon.
Verboon says one of the suggestions was to close down the kitchen in the prison to prevent the spread. A spokesperson for the prison says the central kitchen was closed late last week for deep cleaning. Meals are being prepared in satellite kitchens by staff who are screened daily for the virus, the spokesperson said.
Still, Verboon said the county is asking the Governor to re-enforce state guidelines at the prison to control the outbreak.