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Congresswoman Calls Tour Of Coronavirus-Ravaged Terminal Island Prison 'Disturbing'

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Prisoners' relatives rallied at Terminal Island on May 8 calling for more action to protect inmates from the virus. (Emily Elena Dugdale/LAist).
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Congresswoman Nanette Barragán today toured the Terminal Island prison in San Pedro where more than 700 people have tested positive for COVID-19. She said what she saw and heard was "disturbing."

She said inmates could not practice social distancing, and were wearing ill-fitting or incorrectly worn masks.

There are 1,042 prisoners at the facility, many of whom need long-term medical or mental health care.

As of today, the prison reports:

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  • 150 active cases of the virus among prisoners
  • 15 active cases among staff.
  • Seven inmates at the prison have died of COVID-19
  • More than 500 have recovered from the disease, according to a live tracker maintained by the federal Bureau of Prisons.

Currently, 16 inmates are hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms.
Barragán said the L.A. County Department of Public Health offered to test all of the prison's correctional officers, but the prison warden, Felicia Ponce, declined the offer.

Barragán said:

"The warden said that she cannot force the correctional officers to test for COVID-19."

Barragán said she was deeply concerned with the fact that only six inmates from the facility had been recommended for home confinement under the CARES Act, despite the fact that 17% of the prison is minimum security.

"We're not even close to the number of folks that might be in a better position being on home confinement," she said.

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Families of incarcerated prisoners rallied outside the prison last Friday, calling for more action to protect inmates from the virus.

The prison warden said they are undergoing a second round of review to recommend more inmates for home confinement. It's expected to be completed May 22.

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