San Quentin Outbreak Doubles In Days

Advocates, Family Call For More Releases

KCBS Radio Morning News
June 24, 2020 - 10:55 am

    The COVID-19 pandemic has hit San Quentin State Prison hard.

    The number of confirmed cases has more than doubled since Sunday with with 407 inmates and 43 staff members now testing positive.

    Experts believe it arrived at the prison after medically vulnerable inmates were transferred out of another prison in Chino, which was experiencing an outbreak. While state officials said they would all would be tested before leaving the Chino facility, some were tested weeks before their transfer. 

    There were no cases at San Quentin until inmates arrived from Chino at the end of the May.

    Advocates, prisoners and their families are demanding urgent action to release inmates to curb the spread.

    "The conditions at San Quentin are very condensed and very confined," Ella Baker Center for Human Rights' James King said. 

    King was formerly incarcerated at the facility.

    "One of the things that has come out of this particular outbreak has been that the ways that cell living - people are confined into cells - is extremely dangerous for the outbreak of the disease," King said.

    Gov. Gavin Newsom has begun releasing prisoners who are within 180 days of their original release date, but some say that's not enough to make a difference, especially at San Quentin.

    The outbreak has helped drive Marin County’s recent case count up dramatically.

    The county has seen 47% of its total cases registered in just the last two weeks.