San Quentin State Prison is ‘deep area of focus and concern’ in California: Nearly one-third of inmates have coronavirus

California's oldest correctional facility is battling a widespread coronavirus outbreak that has impacted nearly a third of its inmates.

San Quentin State Prison reported more than 1,000 positive coronavirus cases as of Monday morning, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a press briefing. The prison housed 3,507 inmates as of Wednesday, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

"That is our deep area of focus and concern right now," Newsom said. He added 42% of San Quentin's inmate population is considered "medically vulnerable."

San Quentin's outbreak is more than double the size of the one at the California Institution for Men in Chino. According to data released by the CDCR, there are 509 confirmed coronavirus cases at the California Institution for Men. By Monday night, there were 1,059 confirmed cases at San Quentin, according to the same data.

The cases at San Quentin account for more than half of the 2,059 active cases in prisons across the state, CDCR press secretary Dana Simas said in a statement to USA TODAY.

Coronavirus:NASA invented a wearable that reminds you not to touch your face

"CDCR, along with health care and public health experts at (California Correctional Health Care Services), are preparing to set up air-conditioned tent structures within San Quentin State Prison and are coordinating logistics to determine the most effective use of additional medical triage and housing space," Simas said. "More details will be shared once those decisions are finalized."

Newsom said the cause of San Quentin's outbreak is still under investigation, but pointed to a transfer of prisoners from Chino.

Guards walk a corridor at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, Calif.

"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, told NPR.

More than 4,800 inmates have tested positive for coronavirus in California's prison system since the first positive result on March 22, according to the CDCR. Newsom said there are about 113,000 inmates in the state's correctional system.

Simas outlined myriad mitigation measures, including the suspension of normal 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 impacting 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," according to Willis.

US coronavirus map:Tracking the outbreak

"San Quentin is experiencing the largest prison outbreak of COVID-19 in the state," Willis said Friday in a video update. "This has stressed local hospital capacity because at least 25 inmates have required hospitalization within the region."

Newsom said Seton Medical Center is a potential location “if we have to transfer many, many patients into the hospital system from San Quentin.”

The state has identified 110 inmates at San Quentin who are eligible for early release under a program California has been using during the coronavirus pandemic, Newsom said. Inmates who meet specific criteria and are within 180 days of their release date are eligible for early release during the pandemic.

To date, 3,500 inmates have been released and 3,500 more have potential to be released, Newsom said.

But, Newsom added, 70 of the San Quentin inmates identified as eligible for release have nowhere to go.

"Do you make a bad situation worse by releasing someone that’s not ready to be released because they don’t have a place to stay?" Newsom said. "They don’t have a place to go. They don’t have plans in place."

California has seen a spike in coronavirus cases. On Sunday, Newsom announced the mandatory closure of bars in seven counties, including Los Angeles County, the most populous in the state.

The Golden State has the second-highest confirmed case count in the country with more than 222,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.


News Related


Trump’s ‘mission accomplished’ moment is premature and deadly. We have not defeated COVID.

Desperate for crowds and adoration, Trump has put his most fervent supporters at risk of getting a deadly disease. Future historians will be astonished. Read more »

NFLPA president JC Tretter says NFL is putting season, players at risk with its coronavirus approach

NFL Players Association president JC Tretter said Tuesday the NFL is putting the 2020 season at risk with its coronavirus approach, calling on the league to better “prioritize player safety.” “Like many other... Read more »

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says he tested positive for the coronavirus

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro says he has tested positive for COVID-19 after months of downplaying the virus’ severity. Bolsonaro confirmed the test results while wearing a mask and... Read more »

Venice Film Festival forges ahead amid COVID-19 pandemic with reduced lineup

The show will go on for the Venice Film Festival in September, but with a few modifications due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers said Tuesday that they are pushing forward with plans for... Read more »

Amtrak offers buy-one, get-one promotion on its sleeper trains amid COVID-19 — with a catch

Amtrak wants you to have sweet dreams the next time you travel — so much so that it’s sweetening the deal on its sleeper “roomettes.” The rail service is offering a buy-one-get-one-free discount... Read more »

Florida teen treated with hydroxychloroquine at home before dying of COVID-19, report says

FORT MEYERS, Fla. – The family of a 17-year-old Florida girl who died last month from COVID-19 treated her symptoms at home for nearly a week before taking her to a hospital, a... Read more »

Mookie Betts worried MLB coronavirus testing woes could prevent him from ever playing for Dodgers

During nearly four months away from the game, Mookie Betts said he “stayed away from baseball to keep myself sane.” It’s not hard to understand why. The 2018 American League Most Valuable Player... Read more »

Tom Hanks doesn’t get ‘how common sense has somehow been put into question’ with coronavirus

Read more »

Can Gov. DeSantis force Florida schools to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic? Some school leaders seem doubtful.

PALM BEACH, Fla. — As concern about the state order spread online, some school leaders said: Not so fast. As Florida educators puzzle over how to start the new academic year, Gov. Ron... Read more »

Texas surpasses 200,000 coronavirus cases after 4th of July holiday weekend

AUSTIN, Texas – Texas reached 200,000 total COVID-19 cases Monday, just 17 days after crossing the 100,000 threshold, a figure that took the state nearly four months to hit. The grim milestone came... Read more »