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Prison Officials Responsible For Coronavirus Outbreak At San Quentin That Killed 29 People, Report Finds

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San Quentin State Prison. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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A report from the State Inspector General’s Office blames a widespread COVID-19 outbreak at San Quentin State Prison on mistakes made by prison health officials.

It’s the third in a series of reports about COVID-19 outbreaks across the state prison system.

This report focuses on last spring’s COVID-19 outbreak among inmates at the California Institution for Men in Chino.

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"Due to the prison’s lack of proper quarantine and isolation space, San Quentin placed many of the persons it suspected had been exposed to COVID-19 in cells without solid doors, jeopardizing the health of both those persons and those already housed in the unit," the report says. (Photo from Office of the Inspector General)

Here's what happened:

The office in charge of health care at prisons statewide decided to transfer some inmates to other prisons in May, specifically older inmates and those with diabetes or high blood pressure. A total of 122 inmates were ultimately transferred from Chino to San Quentin.

The report says that under pressure to move the inmates out, Chino officials did not test them for coronavirus. It was later found that 15 of them were infected with COVID-19.

Nurses at San Quentin spotted the symptoms after the tranfer, and had all the arriving inmates tested. But it was too late.

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San Quentin prison officials housed the inmates in cells without solid doors, and air flowed through the unit.

By the end of August, more than 2,200 San Quentin inmates were infected. Twenty-eight inmates and one staff member died.

In a two-sentence response, prison officials said they “do not agree with all” of the Inspector General’s findings.

The Office of the Inspector General called the efforts by California Correctional Health Care Services and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to prepare for and execute the transfers "deeply flawed," and said the move unesessarily risked "the health and lives of thousands."

The Inspector General also tweeted a motion graphic, showing how fast COVID-19 spread in the prison.

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You can read the full report here.

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