Most inmates at San Quentin test positive for coronavirus in last 14 days

Most of the more than 1,000 inmates at San Quentin State Prison in California contracted COVID-19 in the past two weeks.

A total of 1,021 of inmates at San Quentin currently have active cases of COVID-19, according to data from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). More than 95 percent of those cases – 978 cases – are classified as new in the last 14 days.

The prison now has almost 40 percent of all confirmed coronavirus cases in the California prison system, which has a total of 2,573 confirmed cases. 

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Five San Quentin prisoners were released with active cases, and none of the cases are identified as resolved. 

A death row inmate reportedly died last week after refusing to be tested and tested positive post-mortem, SFist reported. The official CDCR count includes zero deaths. As of last Monday, 30 staff members at the prison had also contracted COVID-19.

Dana Simas, the press secretary for CDCR, said in a statement that the agency and court-appointed federal receiver “are working around the clock to fight COVID-19, not just at San Quentin, but at all institutions.” San Quentin conducted testing for all of its staff and more than 2,500 of inmates, Simas said.

The agencies are working “to determine the most effective use of additional medical triage and housing space” and to set up air-conditioned tent structures in the prison. 

“Since the global coronavirus pandemic hit our community, the department has worked tirelessly to implement measures to protect staff, the incarcerated population, and the community at-large, which have been backed by the Receiver, and based on public health input and guidance,” Simas said.

SFist reported the outbreak was caused when 121 inmates were transferred from the California Institute for Men at Chino on May 31. Before then, San Quentin did not have an inmate test positive for the virus, according to the outlet. 

The California Institute for Men at Chino has the second-highest number of cases with 509 considered active, including 64 classified as new within the past two weeks. Forty-eight inmates were released while the virus was active, 322 illnesses were resolved and 16 inmates died.

Marin County, where San Quentin is located, has reported 1,195 total cases of COVID-19, which excludes the prison’s count. Out of those 784 people have recovered, and 18 have died, according to county data.