Marin County Coroner Confirms Death from COVID-19 at San Quentin

11 hours ago

The Marin County coroner has announced that the inmate who died at San Quentin State Prison last week tested positive for COVID-19. Death row inmate, 71-year-old Richard Stitely, was found dead in his cell on June 24. The cause of death is still under investigation.

During an inspection earlier this month, federal receivers — who oversee health care in California state prisons — reported that condemned inmates were not wearing masks, or social distancing while in the yard. 

There are currently more than 1,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among inmates at San Quentin, and around 90 staff have tested positive. The outbreak began two weeks after 121 inmates were transferred from The California Institute for Men in Southern California, which has seen hundreds of cases and more than a dozen deaths.

Prior to the transfer, San Quentin had no COVID-19 cases among the incarcerated population.

The new arrivals were housed together, apart from San Quentin inmates, but movement of staff between housing blocks allowed the virus to enter the existing population. 

“In the absence of really aggressive infection control practices, it’s almost inevitable that an outbreak like this would would accelerate very rapidly once it’s gained a foothold there,” said Marin County Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis.

So far, 40 inmates have been transferred to nearby hospitals. Prison officials say all San Quentin staff undergo mandatory testing, and that they have performed 2,500 tests among the incarcerated population. CDCR said it will also set up air-conditioned tent structures within the prison, and are working to determine the best use of additional medical triage and housing space.

— Alice Woelfle (@turfstarwolf)

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