Coronavirus outbreak in California Prisons

Background

Here is a tough and heartbreaking story on Coronavirus.

 

Story

Link

 

LOS ANGELES — As COVID-19 infections rapidly spread through California’s prisons, authorities on Monday announced the replacement of the state correction system’s top medical officer. The move came as Gov. Gavin Newsom criticized a previous decision to transfer hundreds of inmates from a Chino facility that had been battling an outbreak.

The leadership shakeup occurred as corrections officials reported three more deaths over the July 4 weekend among inmates at San Quentin State Prison, where more than one-third of inmates have tested positive. The death toll is now at six. Most of the facility’s COVID-19 infections were reported in the last two weeks, after 121 inmates were transferred there in late May from the California Institution for Men in Chino.

“They should not have been transferred,” Newsom said in his public address.

The governor described combating the outbreak at the state’s prison system as “a top priority for our administration.” He said he hoped San Quentin would be able to reduce its inmate count from more than 4,000 on March 1 to 3,082 in the next few weeks.

“We don’t want to just send people out to park benches and homeless shelters,” Newsom said. “We have to make sure we responsibly move people out.”

On Monday, the federal court-appointed receiver overseeing medical care at the state’s prisons announced the removal of Dr. R. Steven Tharratt as the prison system’s statewide medical director. Tharratt will now serve as a special health care adviser to the receiver.

Statewide, at least 28 inmates have died of COVID-related illnesses. More than 2,400 are currently infected.

“We are in unprecedented times as we deal with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the receiver, J. Clark Kelso, said in a statement. “In order to meet current response needs while also working toward further delegation of medical care back to state control, it has become evident that a reorganization is necessary for long-term sustainability.”

Last week, Democratic Assemblyman Marc Levine of San Rafael called for Kelso’s removal and described the shifting of inmates without contemporaneous testing as “the worst prison health screw-up in state history.”

In late May, corrections officials announced that nearly 700 vulnerable inmates from the Chino prison would be transferred to a dozen other corrections facilities around the state. At the time, the Chino prison had reported more than 600 cases of COVID-19 and nine deaths among its inmates, who are in close quarters in dormitory housing.

The inmates to be transferred had tested negative for COVID-19 but had medical histories that would make them especially vulnerable to the infection.

The transfers did alleviate the outbreak in Chino, which on Monday reported 119 active cases and a total of 16 deaths. But the virus spread elsewhere, hitting San Quentin, California’s oldest prison, especially hard.

San Quentin now has 1,381 infected inmates, including 920 new cases in the last 14 days, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s COVID-19 tracker.

The positive cases translate to more than one-third of the prison’s inmate population of about 3,450, which includes 721 inmates on death row.

Last week, Marin County reported that Richard Stitely, 71, a death row inmate found dead in his cell on June 24, had tested positive for COVID-19. On Friday, the department announced the deaths of death row inmates Scott Thomas Erskine, 57, and Manuel Machado Alvarez, 59, followed the next day by Dewayne Michael Carey, 59. Authorities have yet to identify two more inmates who died Sunday.

All died at an outside hospital “from what appear to be complications related to COVID-19,” the department said. Local hospitals have been inundated with intensive care patients from the prison, Marin County officials said last week.

(Times staff writers Phil Willon and Stuart Leavenworth contributed to this report.)

©2020 Los Angeles Times

Summary

Governance

Governance is not easy.

Keep those charged with governance in your prayers.

 

Taking Care of People

Please keep those who are taking care of people in your prayers, as well.

Lean on them less.

They are already drained.

 

People Being Cared for

It is tough for those charged and convicted of violent crimes.

While others charged with petty and white color crimes are being released, they are far less likely to be released.

Doing time is not easy.

With and within this outbreak, they are really doing hard times.

Family

Please stand with each family that has someone on the inside.

Each day a family member is away, their family is locked in with them.

No greater burden.

 

Dedicated

Dedicated to Governor Gavin Newsom.

As mayor of San Francisco, he will come out each year to share encouraging words with thousands of volunteers during the annual AIDS walk.

He is a good man; whose heart is truly in the right place.

Same goes for this predecessor, Jerry Brown.

Easy as easy does, by himself, he walks around Jack London Square in Oakland.

 

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