Outbreak at San Quentin is a factor leading to spike in coronavirus hospitalizations in Bay Area

SAN QUENTIN, Calif. (KRON) – One of the factors leading to the spike in hospitalizations across the Bay Area is the coronavirus outbreak at San Quentin Prison.

As of Monday, more than a thousand inmates had tested positive but in just the last 24 hours that number is now closer to 1,100.

Each hour more and more inmates at San Quentin Prison are testing positive for COVID-19 and as it spreads across the facility things will only get worse.

“What we are seeing is a rapid increase in cases over the last few weeks and being established in setting where it hadn’t been before so based on that there could be up to 2000 cases,” Dr. Matt Willis said. 

As of Monday, 1,021 inmates in custody had tested positive for COVID-19. Now just 24 hours later, another 70 inmates have tested positive and 300 more tests are outstanding. 

This is in addition to the more than 100 prison staffers that have tested positive.  

Many will get sick enough to be transferred to a hospital and that’s creating a problem.

“It’s not uncommon for staff at San Quentin to reach out to hospitals and be told there’s no room at the inn and have to move on the the next hospital and that’s happening in increasing frequency,” Willis said. 

Right now, Marin County’s three hospitals are full and cannot accept transfers from San Quentin as a result over the last two weeks, 45 inmates have been sent to hospitals across the Bay Area, but with an increase in community spread, those beds are also filling up.

State officials have placed medical tents on the baseball field at San Quentin, but at this point it is unknown if they will be used to triage patients, isolate those who are COVID positive from those who are not, or to actually treat patients in a field hospital like setting.

“Whatever we can do to establish onsite medical capacity for ill inmates at San Quentin is critical,” Willis said. 

The State Senate Public Safety Committee will be looking into the San Quentin outbreak during a hearing on Wednesday. 

It’s at that time state officials are expected to reveal their plan for treating the inmates.

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