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2 more San Quentin inmates die amid coronavirus outbreak

Two more San Quentin inmates have died of suspected complications from COVID-19, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said Monday.

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The inmates, who had been hospitalized, died outside the prison on Saturday. Their names were not released “to protect individual medical privacy,” the CDCR said in a statement. No other information was provided.

As of Monday, 1,925 prisoners at the prison had contracted the virus and 10 had died. Of those who tested positive, 410 patients have recovered, according to the state.

“CDCR takes the health and safety of all those who live and work in our state prisons very seriously and will continue to work diligently to address the COVID-19 pandemic,” the agency said in a statement.

Three deaths at San Quentin are being investigated by the coroner’s division of the Marin County Sheriff’s Office. Two of the inmates, Richard Stitely and Joseph Cordova, who died June 24 and July 1, respectively, tested positive for COVID-19, the coroner’s office said.

The cause and manner of those deaths will be confirmed after post-mortem examinations are completed.

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COVID-19 infections have exploded at the prison since 121 inmates from the California Institution for Men in Chino arrived in May. The inmates, who were moved to free up space amid an outbreak in Chino, were not tested prior to being transferred to San Quentin.

To keep local hospitals from bearing the brunt of the outbreak, Marin public health officials said late last week that the state Office of Emergency Services has stepped in to install a 200-bed field hospital on the prison campus staffed with medical personnel. The Army National Guard also has responded.

Officials have installed tents to quarantine inmates who tested positive for the virus.

After increasing demands from a coalition of activists, family members of inmates and lawmakers, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration on Friday approved the early release of more than 8,000 state prison inmates.

The releases, set to occur on a “rolling basis” between now and the end of August, will involve low-level offenders and older inmates who officials say pose less risk to public safety.

Across the state prison system, 6,310 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 and 33 have died, according to the CDCR.

The Bay Area News Group contributed to this report.

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