July 07, 2020
Area(s) of Interest: Public Health
On Monday, the California Medical Association (CMA) urged the Newsom Administration to immediately convene an advisory group to address the COVID-19 outbreak at San Quentin State Prison and proactively work to prevent similar outbreaks at other state prisons. Such an advisory group, CMA said, should include individuals with infectious disease expertise, individuals with expertise in correctional administration and the appropriate representatives from the impacted bargaining units, especially those that provide medical care within the facilities.
There is an urgent imperative to act. As of June 26, San Quentin had 545 active cases. On July 6, there were 1,381 cases—with 920 of those cases new in the last 14 days.
CMA recognizes that there are unique considerations for this population that complicate questions concerning their health care. Incarcerated individuals and the staff who serve in these facilities deserve protections against exposure and appropriate care when diagnosed with COVID-19. Failure to address exposure among the prison population has broad implications for incarcerated individuals, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) employees and the surrounding communities.
The overrepresentation of Black and Latino individuals due to systemic racism within the criminal justice system also means failure to address COVID-19 exposure will likely further exacerbate the disparate impacts of COVID-19 on these communities.
For more information, see CMA’s letter to Governor Gavin Newsom on this issue.