L.A. County jail inmates caught allegedly trying to contract COVID-19

FILE – In this Dec. 3, 2018 file photo, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva speaks during a ceremony in Monterey Park, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 7:45 AM PT — Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Surveillance footage shows inmates in a Los Angeles County jail trying to contract COVID-19 in an effort to be released.

“Because somehow there was some mistaken belief among the inmate population that if they tested positive, that there was a way to force our hand and somehow release more inmates out of our jail environment and that’s not gonna happen,” said Sheriff Alex Villanueva of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The video shows several inmates in a huddle sharing a bottle of hot water right before getting their temperatures taken. It also shows inmates drinking from the same styrofoam cup then passing around a mask and breathing into it.

“And with the hot water, they’re trying to falsely elevate their temperature readings to generate a symptom for COVID-19,” Sheriff Villanueva continued.

According to the L.A. Sheriff’s Department, coronavirus cases have increased by nearly 60 percent in just one week at the county jail.

“As a result of this behavior, from this particular module, 21 inmates tested positive for COVID-19 within a week of these videos being taken,” Sheriff Villanueva explained.

As of Monday, 222 prisoners tested positive for the virus and there have been a total of 357 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic. Nearly 40 percent of the county jail is in quarantine and all new arrivals are being tested upon entry.

RELATED: 7 ‘high-risk’ sex offenders released from Calif. jail

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