More Than 600 San Quentin Inmates Infected

Hundreds of inmates have tested positive for the coronavirus at San Quentin State Prison
Photo credit Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A Marin County lawmaker is speaking out as the coronavirus outbreak at San Quentin State Prison has exploded over the last two weeks.

State Assemblyman Marc Levine has called for the resignation of the prison executive he believes is responsible for the outbreak.

Hundreds of inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 at San Quentin since a transfer of prisoners at the end of May from a facility in Chino with a large outbreak. State prison officials reported Saturday 613 inmates now are infected with the coronavirus, up from 547 just 24 hours prior. The prison has seen a staggering 568 new cases over the last 14 days.

Officials said 89 staff members have been infected.

"If they're going to be transferring inmates to another prison, they need to make sure that epidemiologists and public health protocols lead the way," Levine said. "We need to make sure that our local hospitals are not overwhelmed with a surge of infections in prisoners."

In May, I spoke on the Assembly Floor & called upon CDCR & San Quentin prison leadership to take action to prevent a #COVID19 infection surge. In late May there were 900 inmate infections statewide. Today it's 3860, including 433 in the last 14 days at San Quentin. Unacceptable.

— Assemblymember Marc Levine (@AsmMarcLevine) June 24, 2020

Levine represents Marin County and believes the outbreak at San Quentin was preventable.

"We need to make sure that public health officers, epidemiologists are making decisions that can protect the public health," Levine told KCBS Radio.

Levine said Receiver J. Clark Kelso, who heads California Correctional Health Care Services, is responsible for the transfer and therefore the San Quentin outbreak.

"This is the biggest prison health screw up in state history," Levine said.

He’s called for Kelso to step down.

KCBS Radio has reached out to the state’s corrections department and California Correctional Health Care Services for a response to Levine’s comments. We have yet to hear back.