A federal appeals court has temporarily suspended a COVID-19 vaccine warrant for all prison workers in California, blocking new rules that were due to go into effect on January 12.
The 9th U.S. Court of Appeals on Friday approved a request to stay an order made by a lower court, pending appeal.
A judge has ordered the warrant requiring all staff in correctional facilities to receive the COVID-19 vaccine based on a recommendation from an official who has been appointed by a court to lead the health care system in California prisons . The receiver was appointed by a court after a federal judge determined that the state was not providing adequate health care to inmates in 2005.
U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar has also ordered all inmates who wish in-person visits or who work outside prison facilities to receive the vaccine.
“Once the virus enters an institution, it is very difficult to contain, and the dominant route by which it enters a prison is through infected staff,” Tigar said.
The vaccination mandate would have taken effect on January 12, but the suspension suspends its application until an appeal hearing scheduled for March, according to the Associated Press.
In their decision, the panel of judges of the court of appeal also imposed a deadline of December 13 for the opening of briefs.
Don Specter, director of the nonprofit prison law office, opposed the suspension, saying that it “exposes both prison staff and the prison population to an increased risk of infection”.
About 51,000 inmates in California jails have been infected with the virus and more than 240 have died of the disease since the pandemic was declared last March, according to a tracker maintained by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. State. There are currently 130 active cases in state custody.
Gov. Gavin Newsom joined the California Prison Agency in appealing the vaccination warrant for prison workers earlier this month, although his administration has been a champion of the vaccine and testing warrants. They argued that its implementation would force correctional officers to resign en masse rather than comply, leaving state prisons dangerously understaffed.
“Since the start of this pandemic, the CDCR has put in place stringent COVID security measures, including mandatory masking, bi-weekly testing for staff and early deployment of vaccines for inmates and staff,” said one Newsom spokesperson. The Los Angeles Times.
The California Correctional Peace Officers Association, a politically powerful organization that opposed the mandate, had donated $ 1.75 million to a group that backed Newsom in the state’s October recall election, according to Times.
News week contacted Newsom’s office for comment.