COVID-19 outbreak at Folsom Prison spreads through 10% of inmates in two weeks

At Folsom State Prison, the number of COVID-19 cases has more than doubled over the past 14 days.
(Michael A. Jones / Associated Press)

Amid an overall statewide decline in the average number of coronavirus infections in recent weeks, several prisons have reported massive spikes in infections as testing has expanded.

At Folsom State Prison, the number of COVID-19 cases has skyrocketed in the past 14 days after more than three-quarters of the inmate population was tested for the virus.

According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the facility northeast of Sacramento currently has the largest outbreak in the state’s prison system, with 224 inmates actively infected. A total of 233 inmates have tested positive for the virus — 226, or nearly 10% of the population, in roughly the past two weeks. Five prisoners have recovered, and four were released while ill. No deaths among the roughly 2,457 inmates have been reported.

In addition, at least 15 prison employees have tested positive for the virus.

Several other prisons have seen large spikes in cases over the past two weeks, including the California Men’s Colony near San Luis Obispo, which has reported 234 cases — 119 in the past 14 days. That institution, which houses roughly 3,394 inmates, has 219 prisoners battling infection, the second-highest number of cases in the prison system.


California’s prison system, comprised of 35 institutions, has recorded more than 9,730 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began and 55 related deaths. As testing has expanded in institutional settings, roughly 1,050 cases have been reported over the last 14 days, and 1,291 prisoners are currently infected.

San Quentin State Prison has had the deadliest outbreak in the system. The prison in Marin County has reported the most cases — 2,230 — as well as 25 deaths. There are currently 61 infected inmates, with seven having been reported in the past 14 days.