L.A. County juvenile hall officer tests positive for coronavirus, 21 youths in quarantine

A probation officer who works at the Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar has tested positive for the coronavirus, and 21 juveniles are now on quarantine.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

A Los Angeles County probation officer who works inside a Sylmar juvenile hall has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to an email reviewed by The Times.

Probation officials declined to provide information about the officer, citing privacy laws, but said 21 juvenile detainees at the Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall have been quarantined. None of the juveniles are symptomatic, said Adam Wolfson, communications director for the Probation Department.

The officer had been isolating at home while awaiting the test results, the email said.

In a statement, probation officials said they were “acting quickly and taking this incident very seriously including working with our health care partners to mitigate any additional cases.”


“Medical staff on site are closely monitoring health of youth potentially exposed and any other individuals present in the housing unit in question,” the statement said. “No staff or youth are exhibiting symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and (they) are being continually monitored by health staff.”

Extensive cleaning of the unit at the juvenile hall where the employee worked is underway, probation officials said.

Earlier this month, a public defender assigned to the Sylmar juvenile courthouse also tested positive for the virus, leading officials to close the courthouse for several days. The courthouse is attached to the Nidorf juvenile hall. The public defender contracted the virus after caring for a relative who had also tested positive, a news release issued by the Los Angeles County Superior Court said.

A spokeswoman for the public defender’s office has declined to provide updates on the attorney who tested positive.

Concern about potential outbreaks among incarcerated populations has driven widespread efforts to reduce the adult prison population in California in recent weeks. On Tuesday, lawyers for Gov. Gavin Newsom said they would grant early release to about 3,500 state prison inmates who were serving time for nonviolent crimes and had fewer than 60 days left on their sentences.

The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department has also made moves to shrink its normally 17,000-inmate jail population amid the health crisis, releasing inmates with fewer than 30 days left on their sentences as well as those awaiting trial for misdemeanor offenses who are being held on a bail of less than $50,000.


Similar calls have been made to release juvenile offenders who are awaiting trial or being held on technical probation violations.

Despite those efforts, an inmate at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility was confirmed to have contracted the virus on Tuesday. Four others who work in the jails — a sheriff’s deputy, a custody assistant, a nursing assistant and a doctor — have also tested positive and 16 additional people have been placed under quarantine.