7 coronavirus prisoners died in San Quentin and hundreds more are dying in US jails and prisons.


“It is incredibly frustrating that a person has made the decision to transfer a few patients from one prison, Chino, to San Quentin,” Newsom said Thursday at a press conference. “That decision created a chain of events that we are now addressing and dealing with. I am not here to sweeten that.”

The prison had escaped unscathed from the first months of the pandemic until cases began to skyrocket in late May after a transfer of detainees from the California Institution for Men in Chino.

Several advocates and lawmakers gathered outside San Quentin on Thursday, calling for the release of elderly and medically vulnerable detainees.

“California has not had an execution since 2006, but six people, as I understand it in the past few weeks, have been executed by Covid while on death row,” said Adnan Khan, executive director of Re: Store Justice, a group in defense of criminal justice reform. .

Authorities in California have been releasing prisoners who are close to finishing their sentences since March due to the pandemic. In San Quintín, more than 500 detainees have been released due to expedited and natural releases, according to the CDCR.

Inside the prison and jails, the pandemic could not feel more palpable as detainees were forced to live, work and eat indoors.

Correctional facilities across the country have become major hotspots for the virus in recent months, and San Quentin is only the latest.

Nearly 100 people have died in Texas facilities

Before the San Quentin outbreak, the virus devastated correctional facilities in central Ohio, Illinois, Colorado and Texas, where at least 91 people incarcerated and nine staff members with Covid-19 have died, according to the criminal justice department of the state.

Corrections officials are still trying to determine if an additional 26 deaths are related to the virus.

About 130,000 people are incarcerated at the Texas facility, and more than 10,500 detainees have or have had Covid-19. At least 1,927 staff members have also tested positive for the virus, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Unlike California and other states, Texas officials have not moved to release parole-eligible detainees or those nearing the end of their sentences in an effort to reduce the population and curb the spread of the virus, to despite calls from advocates and family members.

Governor Greg Abbott signed an executive order in March to prevent the release of “dangerous criminals” from correctional facilities.

“We want to prevent the spread of # COVID19 among prison staff and inmates. But releasing dangerous criminals on the streets is not the solution,” the governor tweeted at the time.
Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union released a report saying more than 570 people incarcerated and more than 50 correctional staff have died.
The ACLU analyzed states’ response to Covid-19 in jails and prisons and found that many states have taken little action to “implement a consistent system-wide response to protect and save lives” amid the pandemic.

Coronavirus infections are more than 5 times higher in prisons.

A study published earlier this week showed that the number of incarcerated people infected with Covid-19 and the coronavirus-related death rate in federal and state prisons is higher than the general US population.
Analysis finds coronavirus deaths and infection rates are higher in US prisons than in the general population
“The number of US prison residents who tested positive for Covid-19 was 5.5 times greater than the general population of the United States,” said an analysis led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The researchers said the disparity could be worse because massive testing in some prisons revealed large Covid-19 outbreaks “with infection rates above 65%,” but many facilities do not screen inmates or only screen symptomatic individuals.

The study analyzed cases and deaths from March 31 to June 6 using publicly available data from the departments of corrections websites, news reports and other sources. As of June 6, there were more than 42,100 cases of Covid-19 and 510 virus-related deaths among the nearly 1.3 million people incarcerated, the researchers said.

“We have been given flimsy paper masks,” says the detainee.

Families and advocates have been calling for better conditions at the Prince George’s County Jail in Maryland, and now actors Jesse Williams and Alec Baldwin, singer Fiona Apple, and several Broadway actors have joined them.

“We are locked up for twenty-three hours or more a day in our hot cells. I have an hour to shower, use the phone and clean my cell phone. There is no social distance on the phones,” Baldwin said in a video as he read a statement from an inmate. 39 years old.
The video is one of several messages recorded by celebrities, lawyers and activists from “Gasping for Justice,” an initiative of the Hear Us impact advocacy project to share first-hand stories from detainees.
The statements were part of a federal lawsuit filed in March on behalf of the detainees, describing unhealthy and overcrowded conditions in Prince George’s jail.
“I don’t think it’s clean enough here, and we’re not getting enough cleaning supplies. I try to keep my cell clean, but they don’t let us use bleach. I ask for a nine spray and the guards say no.” I use a rag and my hands. When I find a way to get some spray nine, I use it, too, “another detainee said in a statement, read by Broadway actor” Jagged Little Pill “Sean Allan Krill.
“They have given us flimsy paper masks. The guards tell us not to lose our masks because we cannot get a replacement,” added the detainee’s statement. “Not all inmates wear their masks; neither do the guards.”

Scott Hechinger, a public defender and director of Zealous, a national initiative to support defenders and communities to move their defense out of court, said the pandemic has only caused conditions at correction facilities like Prince George be even more visceral.

“Just because there are no cameras inside doesn’t mean there is no injustice there,” Hechinger told CNN.

As of Wednesday, there have been 19,456 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Prince George’s County, according to data from the state health department.

WHO says crowded places with inadequate ventilation may be at risk

Prisons and coast-to-coast prisons have struggled with poor ventilation for years and could now also put them at risk for Covid-19.

The World Health Organization acknowledged Thursday that outbreaks of coronavirus in “crowded places indoors” could suggest that droplets of the virus could travel through the air, but there are still many unanswered questions about airborne transmission and they urgently need more studies. “
Transmission of the virus occurs primarily through “direct, indirect, or close contact with infected people through infected secretions such as saliva and respiratory secretions, or through their respiratory droplets, which are expelled when an infected person coughs, sneezes, speak or sing, “WHO said in an updated report Thursday.

“Aerosol transmission” cannot be ruled out as a factor in reported outbreaks in restaurants, nightclubs, places of worship, as well as “crowded and inadequately ventilated places where infected people spend long periods of time with others,” said the WHO.

CNN’s Cheri Mossburg, Jacqueline Howard and Ben Tinker contributed to this report.

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