ALAMEDA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) – More than 40 deputies and other staff members of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office have contracted COVID-19 since March.
Many of them work at the Santa Rita Jail, which is also seeing a spike in inmate cases.
“They thought he was going to die,” a deputies wife said.
That’s what the wife of Alameda County Sheriff deputy Oscar Rocha said.
Both the husband and wife tested positive in June. Rocha’s wife Maureen, spent 10 days in the hospital.
The 25-year sheriff department veteran has now been in the ICU for three weeks in a medically induced coma.
He’s made some progress and doctors are working to wean him off the ventilator but has a long road of recovery ahead of him.
“The doctor explained to me on Friday he said COVID lungs are like a wildfire in your lungs and your left we just charge remains and you’ve got to heal so imagine he’s having to do that,” his wife said.
It’s believed that Rocha contracted the virus on the job and brought it home to his wife.
There was a spike of 35 workers, both sworn and non sworn who tested positive around the same time, while some of those infected were from patrol.
The sheriff department spokesperson says the majority work at the Santa Rita County Jail.
“In the last several days we’ve seen another spike in the inmate population and in our staff where we have now 10 active positive staff members at 103 positives in custody,” Sgt. Ray Kelly said.
Sgt. Ray Kelly says they have been working to keep a lid on coronavirus, which can take off quickly in confined settings.
Inmates are tested on arrival, quarantined and then tested again.
“We’ve been very fortunate over the last several months in regards to COVID-19 with people in custody and employees. The majority of people have had mild to moderate symptoms in regard to the inmate population we’ve had zero major complications or hospitalizations or anything or anyone has ended up intensive care,” Kelly said.
In addition to Rocha, only one other sheriff department staff member is in the hospital.
The majority of the sheriff’s office workers who tested positive back in June were asymptomatic and are back at work.
This week on Monday and Thursday, the Alameda County Sheriff Office workers are being offered to test for both the virus and antibodies to help make sure they aren’t infected and intentionally carrying coronavirus back to their families and the communities they serve.