Constantine said its contrary to shelter in place orders

Kern County Public Health officials say the decision to move inmates from Taft Correctional Institution is not safe in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic.

Kern County Department of Public Health Services epidemiologist Kim Hernandez said it is not safe.

"We would not recommend that people move inmates while we are in the middle of a disease outbreak," she told the Taft Midway Driller in a telephone interview Friday afternoon. "Relocating to a new prison goes against the concept of staying home and limiting public contact. We would not recommend it"

Kern County Director of Matt Constantine pointed out that it not consistent with Gov. Gavin Newsom's executive order for people to shelter in place and limit movement to essential business.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons began transferring inmates from TCI last week to move them to new prisons around the nation in preparation for closing the facility by April 30. Inmates were bused to Meadows Field in Bakersfield and placed on passenger jets for flights to other facilities.

Constantine and Rodriguez would not say if any TCI staff had tested positive for COVID-19. According to the BOP, no TCI inmates or staff have tested positive.

Local elected officials, including Taft Mayor Dave Noerr, Supervisor Zack Scrivner and Congressmen Kevin McCarthy have already criticized the transfer of prisoners during the coronavirus outbreak.