Newsom joins corrections department in appealing prison vaccine mandate
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is joining the state’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in asking a federal court to pause an order requiring correctional staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19, the Los Angeles Times reported on Thursday.
The state is asking the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to pause the order pending appeal, arguing that implementing it would lead to a mass exodus of correctional officers, according to the newspaper.
The Hill has reached out to Newsom’s office for comment.
U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar ruled in late September that employees looking to have “access” to corrections facilities — or incarcerated persons who desire to work outside of the institution or want in-person visitation — either be vaccinated or have a medical exemption.
On Oct. 27, the court ordered that those covered by the mandate be in compliance by Jan. 12.
A federal receiver appointed by the court to oversee prison medical care said that the mandate was the only way to prevent another outbreak, the Times reported. The receiver pointed to an outbreak at San Quentin State prison last year that led to the deaths of 28 prisoners and one officer.
Connie Gipson, who heads adult institutions at California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), has reportedly argued in court records that when Washington state implemented a similar mandate, roughly 4.5 percent of the state’s prison staff quit.
Sixty-four percent of CDCR’s 66,480-member workforce is fully vaccinated, and 2 percent are partially vaccinated, according to state data.
There are currently 267 active cases of coronavirus infections across the state’s prisons. California has recorded more than 51,000 total coronavirus infections since the pandemic began.