SAN QUENTIN (KPIX 5) — A still-growing outbreak of COVID-19 at San Quentin State Prison is sending inmates to be treated to ICU’s in hospitals across the Bay Area.
State prison officials also confirmed they have cancelled a planned prisoner transfer set to happen Monday after discovering two of the inmates involved tested positive for the coronavirus.
According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s web site, there are currently a total of 615 confirmed COVID-19 cases among San Quentin prisoners, with 572 diagnosed in the last 14 days. Additionally, 89 prison staff members have tested positive for the virus.
KPIX 5 has also learned a number of Bay Area hospitals are taking in some of the inmates in need of medical care.
Saturday night, KPIX 5 has confirmed Seton Medical Center in Daly City is taking in sickened inmates.
So far, at least 25 are being treated at Bay Area hospitals under heavy security, including Marin General and Saint Francis Hospital in San Francisco.
The San Quentin outbreak numbers are staggering.
A prisoners’ rights group in Marin hosted a virtual town hall with community members to address their concerns Saturday. Among those who participated was a current San Quentin inmate.
“The longer this pandemic stays in any form in our state, the longer and farther along we are to getting back to any sense of normalcy in our lives,” said San Quentin inmate Adamu Chan.
Prison advocates are demanding the governor and the CDCR grant more releases amid the outbreak.
“That we should only release or reduce population by non-violent, low-level drug offenders is a very false narrative that is put out there in terms of who’s deserving or non-deserving,” said Adnan Khan with Re:store Justice
Richie Greenberg, an activist former San Francisco mayoral candidate, told KPIX 5 he agrees prisoners with fewer than 180 days left on their sentences and negative coronavirus test results should be let go, but is wary of others being released.
“You don’t want to simply open the gates and let convicted felons who are serving time out onto the streets,” said Greenberg.
Meanwhile, Khan of Re:Store Justice believes the state can reduce the prison population by half and still keep the public safe.
“We have seen from less serious criminal convicted felons in jails where they would just come right out and within 24 hours commit another crime again,” said Greenberg
CDCR officials said the two inmates who tested positive, halting their scheduled transfer to North Kern State Prison on Monday, are now in isolation and under medical watch.
Public health officials point to a transfer of more than 120 inmates from Chino to San Quentin in late May as the likely root of the San Quentin outbreak.