San Quentin Outbreak May Be Slowing Down

San Quentin State Prison
Photo credit Kathy Novak/KCBS Radio

The outbreak at San Quentin State Prison may be slowing down. 

State corrections officials reported Monday morning that the prison currently has 900 active cases. While that number is strikingly high for a prison that held 3,700 inmates at the start of the pandemic, it represents a drop from the outbreak’s peak.

Overall between active cases, fatalities and prisoners who recovered, the outbreak affected nearly 60% of San Quentin's inmate population as well as over 200 guards. 

The prison had no cases at the end of May, but that changed after an outbreak at another state prison in Chino. State officials transferred 121 medically vulnerable inmates from Chino to San Quentin in the hopes of protecting them from the virus, but public health experts say some in the group had already been exposed and instead spread it within the facility. 

Hundreds of prisoners, already near the end of their sentences and determined by the state to be non-violent, have been released to reduce overcrowding at the prison and slow the spread of the virus.

Advocates and family members say it has been difficult to get any answers on the conditions inside the prison and whether inmates have access to adequate hygiene and cleaning products and medical care.

12 inmates at San Quentin have died since the outbreak began.