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.
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