SAN LUIS OBISPO – On July 16, one inmate was found to have fever and body aches and was immediately isolated in the jail’s medical unit.

The inmate was tested for COVID-19, and the Sheriff’s Office received a positive test from the Public Health Department Lab on July 17. The Sheriff’s Office conducted a contact tracing investigation to determine if anyone may have been exposed to the inmate while he was infectious. That investigation was forwarded to the Public Health Department for evaluation and follow-up.

Then on July 18, another inmate developed a sore throat and was also isolated. At that time, the inmate was tested for COVID-19, and the Public Health Department’s Lab resulted in a positive test the same day. Contact tracing was conducted as described above.

“Ensuring the health and safety of our inmates is a top priority,” said Sheriff Ian Parkinson. “We have instituted a number of measures to not only keep our inmates safe but everyone who works in the Jail.”


These are the Jail’s first cases of COVID-19 in inmates, a stark contrast to most jails and prisons across California, the majority of which have been battling COVID-19 outbreaks in their facilities for months. These cases in the Jail align with the County of San Luis Obispo’s rising COVID-19 rate over the past two weeks.

The ability to keep COVID-19 out of the Jail for over four months is attributed to the Jail’s comprehensive COVID-19 prevention plan, which includes: all arrestees being screened for fever and COVID symptoms by a nurse before entering the Jail, isolating anyone with symptoms in the medical unit and testing for COVID-19, quarantining all new arrestees for 14 days, screening staff for illness prior to starting work, providing masks for inmates, implementing video court to decrease community exposure, intensifying cleaning, and suspending in-person visiting, to name a few. To help inmates stay connected to their loved ones, the Jail has reduced the cost for video visitation and introduced an email service to enhance communication.

“This is a high-risk population, in a high-risk setting,” said Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Christy Mulkerin. “We have worked hard to keep COVID out of the jail by following CDC and County Public Health guidelines because we want to keep staff, Jail patients, and the community safe.”

The ill inmates are in good condition, are isolated, and the housing units where they lived are under quarantine. The exposed inmates in those units are checked for fever and respiratory symptoms daily by medical staff.

Publisher’s Note: The Paso Robles Press and The Atascadero News will continue to provide updates and publish releases from the County Public Health Department regarding COVID-19 as it relates to the county residents for informational purposes. No information presented should be construed as medical advice or a suggestion as to how to respond in the protection of either your personal health or your personal freedoms. Each of our readers are expected to research as needed to inform themselves about their individual health needs and responsibilities.