Major Coronavirus Outbreak at San Quentin Prison

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California’s oldest prison facility is battling a widespread coronavirus outbreak that has affected nearly a third of its inmates, USA Today reports. San Quentin State Prison, with 3,507 inmates, reported 1,059 positive coronavirus cases as of Monday, said Gov. Gavin Newsom. He said 42 percent of San Quentin’s inmate population is “medically vulnerable.” San Quentin’s outbreak is more than double the size of the one at the California Institution for Men in Chino, where there are 509 confirmed coronavirus cases.

The state will set up air-conditioned tent structures for treatment at San Quentin. Newsom said the cause of San Quentin’s outbreak is still under investigation, but pointed to a transfer of prisoners from Chino. “Unfortunately, they arrived untested and were placed within San Quentin and really kind of seeded an outbreak in a second state facility,” said Dr. Matt Willis, public health officer for Marin County. More than 4,800 inmates have tested positive for coronavirus in California’s prison system, which houses 113,000 inmates. Mitigation measures include the suspension of in-person visiting, decreasing the population density of dorms, providing masks for inmates and staff and “staggered dining, phone calls, and showers.” The outbreak is delaying some reopening plans in Marin County, where San Quentin is located. Gyms, personal services, hotels and short-term rentals, originally slated to reopen on Monday, were “paused.” The state has identified 110 San Quentin inmates who are eligible for early release, but Newsom said that 70 of them have nowhere to go.

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