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John Blagg says the sound of coughing echoes through Spruce Hall at the California Institution for Men in Chino as he and other inmates lay in their beds.

Six months ago, the coughing wouldn’t have meant much in this dormitory, where many inmates like him have a myriad of medical conditions. Blagg says he’s survived three heart attacks, two strokes, seven stents, among other medical setbacks.

But now, he says it is a constant reminder of the coronavirus that has crept into the Chino prison. At least 81 inmates have tested positive, one died Sunday and 29 correctional staffers have been infected.

Blagg says he remains in close quarters with his fellow inmates, including one who sleeps on the rack just 2 feet above him. “People are coughing, constantly coughing,” he said in a phone interview from the prison this week. “There is no way to social distance.”

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