First State Prison Inmate Dies of COVID-19 | KCET
First State Prison Inmate Dies of COVID-19
The following article was originally published April 20, 2020, and republished through a collaboration with KPCC and LAist.
Story by Emily Elena Dugdale
The first inmate at a state prison has died of COVID-19 complications. He was incarcerated at the California Institution for Men in Chino.
The state prison system says the unidentified inmate died at an outside hospital on Sunday.
So far, 122 state prison inmates and 89 employees have tested positive, according to a live tracker maintained by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).
A mandatory 14-day modified program schedule was also implemented by CDCR in early April that shut down family visiting, limited legal visits, and called for a reduction of prisoner populations in day rooms, among other orders.
But inmates tell us they're still in crowded dorms with no way of social distancing.
More on the incarcerated
Some say they've been asked to disable important medical equipment like CPAP machines used for sleep apnea, flagged as a risk for spreading COVID-19.
"A lot of inmates are concerned for their health," said Joe Anderson, who was recently released from Chino on parole.
More inmates must be released to stop additional deaths, argued Kate Chatfield with the reform group The Justice Collaborative.
"We're asking for people who have 18 months or less on their sentence to be released," she said. "It's beyond reasonable; it's necessary, it's required."
Chatfield also says prisoners who are vulnerable to illness, elderly or deemed low risk should be released.
"People inside will need to be cared for out in the hospitals outside of the prison," she said. "And that will create a strain on the hospital system and the ICU beds."
Advocates are also calling for more widespread COVID-19 testing. The CDCR says it's monitoring inmates and taking their temperature several times a day.
Two inmates at federal prisons in California have also died, according to L.A. County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer.
A new COVID-19 testing site opened at Dodger Stadium today, which city officials say will accommodate three times more people than any other testing site in Los Angeles County.
In an announcement that will delight shaggy-haired residents statewide, Gov. Gavin Newsom today cleared the way for barbershops and hair salons to open in some counties.
L.A. County parks and beaches were filled with both the cautious and undeterred during the first major holiday since the economy began to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic.
Ahead of Memorial Day weekend, Los Angeles County today reopened some beach parking lots and authorized retail businesses inside enclosed shopping malls to reopen with curbside pickup service only.
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