San Quentin prison housing inmates in tents amid COVID-19 outbreak

A California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) officer wears a protective mask as he stands guard at the front gate of San Quentin State Prison on June 29, 2020 (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

After the coronavirus pandemic has now infected more than 1,800 inmates and staff, San Quentin State Prison has converted a warehouse and erected tents to treat the ill. 

There are currently nine tents that have been set up on the prison’s baseball field. Each tent can house 10 patients. 

READ MORE: San Quentin prisoners go on hunger strike over coronavirus conditions

According to a report by ABC News, the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (CDCR) is trying to open space for social distancing and quarantine among the pandemic. The prison is also converting a former furniture storage facility into a 220-bed care site to treat patients infected with the virus. 

The CDCR has confirmed that more than 40 nursing staff have been deployed to the institution to assist with health care operations at the prison. 

California Gov. Gavin Newsom
California Gov. Gavin Newsom. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

At a coronavirus briefing on Thursday, California governor, Gavin Newsom, has said that the situation at San Quentin is a major concern for him. He is focused on trying to reduce the population through the early release of nonviolent offenders. 

According to a local ABC7 report, activists are calling for the release of prisoners who are older or medically vulnerable. They say this will leave more room at the prison for social distancing and help stop the spread of coronavirus. 

“All of us are now accountable to addressing this issue,” Newsom said. “That’s precisely what we’re doing.”

California State Senator Scott Wiener spoke at the prison on Thursday. He said on Twitter that no one should be transferred from the facility without being tested. Wiener said, “No more transfers to ICE.” 

READ MORE: Coronavirus hits U.S. prisons, putting imprisoned populations at risk

Dr. Matt Willis, the Marin County Health Officer has said that the virus moved faster than their response. 

The CDCR has said that they gave inmates masks, are monitoring sanitation and hygiene, and have modified dining, phone, and shower schedules for more distancing and regular disinfecting. 

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