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Mon Jun 29, 2020, 06:09 PM

San Quentin COVID-19 Cases Top 1,000

San Quentin State Prison in Marin County has become the site of one of California’s fastest-growing COVID-19 outbreaks. As of Monday morning, close to one third of the prison’s population had tested positive for the virus.

The prison’s 1,015 confirmed cases — up from fewer than 200 hundred a week ago — make San Quentin by far the hardest-hit facility in California’s state prison system, and one of the largest prison clusters in the country. The surge comes as many California counties, including Marin, see record-breaking numbers of new COVID-19 cases, leading health officials to worry that local hospitals may soon be overwhelmed.

Prisoner rights advocates and former San Quentin inmates have long feared an outcome like this. “I don’t know a person who’s connected with San Quentin who wasn’t terrified that this was going to happen,” says James King, who served six and a half years in the North Bay prison and is now state campaigner for the Ella Baker Foundation for Human Rights. “I am extremely concerned for our loved ones who are incarcerated right now.”

The outbreak is thought to have begun in late May, when 121 men were transferred to San Quentin from Chino State Prison in response to the COVID-19 outbreak taking place there. At least 16 of those prisoners, none of whom were tested for a month before they were transferred, tested positive after arriving at San Quentin. The virus has quickly spread in the overcrowded, out-of-date facility, which until the transfer had not recorded a single outbreak. Nearly 30 percent of the approximately 3,500 inmates are now infected, in addition to at least 89 staff. The outbreak at San Quentin is equivalent to half of the total cases in the rest of Marin County (the prison’s cases are counted separately) and about 4 percent of the Bay Area’s case total.

Read more: https://www.sfweekly.com/news/san-quentin-covid-19-cases-top-1000/

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