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Coronavirus cases are rising in California state prisons

There have been over 1,100 cases in the past 14 days
Credit: AP
FILE - In this Aug. 16, 2016, file photo a condemned inmate is led out of his east block cell on death row at San Quentin State Prison, in San Quentin, Calif. More than 700 condemned inmates on the nation's largest death row will soon have a chance to voluntary transfer from San Quentin to one of eight state prisons under a program required by the passage of a 2016 ballot initiative. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — As coronavirus cases continue to rise in California, they are also rising in our state prisons.

Over the last several months there have been 4,394 confirmed coronavirus cases in prisons throughout the state. Over a quarter of those, 1,147, have been reported in just the last two weeks. That also includes a prisoner who died Friday in Kings County, bringing the total number of coronavirus deaths in state prisons to 21.

In a statement on its website, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) says "Public safety is our top priority...CDCR and CCHCS have worked diligently to make unprecedented changes to its operations to address the COVID-19 emergency."

Cymone Reyes' husband is currently incarcerated in Kings County, and she feels that CDCR isn't doing enough to keep the prison population safe.

"It's failing completely. As you see, there's outbreaks from prison to prison. They keep spreading," stated Reyes. "They keep doing institutional transfers. I would have to say that their response has been horrible." 


CDCR says they're pausing the planned transfer of inmates from San Quentin in the Bay Area to North Kern Prison outside Bakersfield. That's because San Quentin has had 569 cases in the past 14 days. In other words, more than 10% of the coronavirus cases in state prisons this year have happened at one location in the last two weeks.

With cases rising, Reyes fears for the health of her husband, who happens to be a cancer survivor with a compromised immune system. 

"He tells me straight up, 'I know I'm going to get it. It just depends on how bad it hits me," Reyes said.

ABC10 reached out to the CDCR for a response, but didn't hear back. 

According to its website, CDCR said that just days ago, it put into place a mandatory two-week program that will further enforce social distancing. This includes limiting groups to no more than 10, assigning bunks to provide more space between individuals, and minimizing the mixing of inmates from different housing areas.


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