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Nearly 700 Inmates Will Be Transferred From Chino, The State Prison Hardest Hit By Coronavirus

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Cramped quarters at the California Institution for Men in Chino show less than six feet of social distancing between bunks. (U.S. District Court filing)

Nearly 700 inmates at risk of contracting COVID-19 will be transferred from the California Institution for Men state prison in Chino and sent to 12 prisons around the state that are free of the virus.

The facility has been the hardest hit of any state prison, with more than 600 cases and nine deaths — the only coronavirus-related fatalities recorded so far at a state correctional institution.

The federal receiver who oversees the state prisons' medical system in a long-running court case ordered the transfer of 691 inmates who tested negative for the virus but whose medical histories would make a COVID-19 infection potentially life threatening.

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As of Thursday, there were 3,303 inmates at the Chino prison.

The transfer order was revealed in a legal brief filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the Prison Law Office.

The filing said current policies have failed to prevent outbreaks in the prisons, so "it is imperative that vulnerable patients receive additional protection immediately."

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is determining where to send the inmates, and it anticipates that the transfers will begin by the end of this week, the brief said.

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