In an interview with AAMCNews, CEGA affiliated professor Stefano Bertozzi describes the coronavirus outbreak and inmate conditions at San Quentin State Prison.
“COVID-19 is raging in numerous jails and prisons across the United States, fueled by a toxic mix of factors that include overcrowding, limited testing, and lack of sufficient sanitation.
So far, more than 160,000 people have been infected in prisons or jails, and 1,000 prisoners and staff members have died. According to a recent study, the rate of COVID-19 among prisoners has been 5.5 times higher than in the U.S. population.
At San Quentin State Prison, cases are finally down, but nearly 2 out of 3 prisoners were infected with COVID-19 earlier this summer. Twenty-six died.
In June, early in the San Quentin outbreak, a team of health experts toured the facility, noting poor ventilation with windows welded shut, prisoners sleeping just feet apart, and other concerns. Their report laid out detailed recommendations to help prevent further spread.
AAMCNews recently spoke with Stefano Bertozzi, MD, PhD, a member of the team and professor of public health at the University of California, Berkeley, and Brie Williams, MD, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and director of a health-focused prison culture change program at UCSF called Amend.
They shared their experiences and their plea for essential changes to protect prisoners and staff — as well as surrounding communities since, as they say, ‘the walls of a prison are not capable of containing viruses.'”
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