April 15, 2020

Harris, Feinstein, Carbajal Request Assistance for Lompoc U.S. Penitentiary to Protect Public Health Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Representative Salud Carbajal (D-CA) on Wednesday sent a letter to Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carvajal urging further action to prevent the spread of coronavirus within Lompoc U.S. Penitentiary. The letter urges expedited approval of the facility’s request to quickly establish a mobile hospital as well as their request for further personal protective equipment (PPE) for workers.

“It is critical that we provide a whole of government approach to ensure Santa Barbara County’s healthcare system is able to cope with this growing crisis and can contain the continued spread of COVID-19. Establishing this 50-bed mobile hospital with the appropriate resources, like ventilators and trained staff, in an expedient manner is essential to being able to achieve this goal.” wrote the legislators, “It is essential that the Administration immediately develop a plan to ensure the safety of these workers and everyone in the facility.

This letter comes as the Lompoc penitentiary faces a growing coronavirus outbreak, with at least 17 staff and 69 inmates testing positive for the virus. The outbreak remains a health threat for all in the facility, and it poses additional challenges relating to hospital capacity in the area. Lompoc’s prison has the highest infection rate of any Bureau of Prisons facility in the nation.

For the safety of the entire community, the legislators are urging quick action to curb the outbreak.

The letter can be found here and below.

April 15, 2020

Mr. Michael Carvajal

Director

Federal Bureau of Prisons

320 First Street N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20534

 

Dear Mr. Carvajal:

We write to you in your capacity as director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons to make sure you continue to take every action possible to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in our communities by providing them with the necessary tools and resources. This includes granting the request to establish, staff and operate a 50-bed mobile hospital from the Lompoc United States Penitentiary (USP) in California and providing the staff members with the adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) and other necessities to ensure their safety. This is in addition to filling the current medical and other prison staffing levels at this facility which are currently at 68 percent and 80 percent respectively.

Currently, COVID-19 is rapidly spreading through our prison system—threatening to overwhelm our local healthcare resources that are available to the general public and posing a threat to the incarcerated population, law enforcement officers and their family members. As of April 12, the Bureau of Prison’s (BOP) data shows that there are 352 federal inmates and 189 BOP staff who have tested positive for COVID-19. Of those numbers the Lompoc USP has the highest infection rate throughout the BOP system nation-wide.

With 63 total confirmed cases, including 17 staff members, and climbing at the Lompoc USP, it is critical that we provide a whole of government approach to ensure Santa Barbara County’s healthcare system is able to cope with this growing crisis and can contain the continued spread of COVID-19. Establishing this 50-bed mobile hospital with the appropriate resources, like ventilators and trained staff, in an expedient manner is essential to being able to achieve this goal. It is our understanding that the Lompoc USP has elevated this request through their chain of command. However, they have been told this could take between 4-6 weeks. This is not an acceptable timeframe. While we understand certain protocols must be followed, we ask that you grant this request as quickly as possible. Otherwise, we threaten the lives of incarcerated individuals, the correctional staff, and risk overwhelming our existing healthcare resources. The local hospitals cannot support an unlimited number of cases and continue to serve our communities effectively. Already, 19 inmates have been hospitalized and six are on ventilators.

Like many other frontline workers, we are concerned the staff members and law enforcement officers at the Lompoc USP are not being provided with the adequate PPE; thereby, creating unsafe working conditions and unnecessarily exposing incarcerated individuals and lawenforcement personnel to COVID-19. It is essential that the Administration immediately develop a plan to ensure the safety of these workers and everyone in the facility.

Again, we ask that you move quickly in approving the request from the Lompoc USP to establish a 50-bed mobile hospital and provide the workers with the necessary equipment and tools to protect themselves from continued exposure to COVID-19. We stand ready to provide any support needed to expeditiously approve this request and provide the necessary resources to our communities.

Sincerely,

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