SAN QUENTIN (CBS SF) — A general population inmate being treated at a Northern California hospital for COVID-19 has died of complications from the virus, raising the death toll at San Quentin State prison to 22, prison officials announced Tuesday.
Currently, state prison officials said, there were 168 inmates at San Quentin with active cases of COVID-19 — 93 of those being reported over the last two weeks. Several of those inmatee were being treated at Northern California hospitals for severe infections.
Another 1,965 have recovered from the virus since the outbreak began in June and 55 inmates with COVID-19 have been released.
Among those infected was Greg Morris, who was doing 17 years to life in San Quentin attempted murder when coronavirus infiltrated the prison’s walls. Morris was just released — three months earlier than expected — after he tested positive for COVID-19.
Morris is currnently in quarantine in a hotel in Hayward where, in a Zoom interview with KPIX, he described what he called the “terrible” conditions inside the prison.
“My cellie had COVID-19,” Morris recalled. “He tested positive, I tested negative. It took a week, or three to five days to figure out right, that he actually tested positive and to move my cellie.”
By then it was too late as Morris’ cellmate had given him COVID-19 and the two men certainly were not the only ones to contract the virus. Testing consisted simply of fever checks and blood oxygen levels.
“It was people in the middle of the night passing out or calling ‘man down’ when there is a medical emergency due to COVID-19,” Morris explained. “That they did not detect based on those two significant factors.”
Morris also described what he saw as staff taking too long to start isolating positive cases, as on-site distancing quickly became difficult.
“They either put [positive cases] in tents onto the yard or they put them into the chapel on emergency beds or they put them in a PIA mattress factory into beds,” Morris remembers.
No other information was released as to the identity of the inmate who died on Monday. Across the state prison system, 49 inmates have died after contracting COVID-19.
At San Quentin, where the state’s death row inmates are housed, 11 condemned inmates have to die since the virus outbreak swept through prison.
The latest to die was Orlando Romero, who sentenced to death along with his brother Christopher Self in 1996. He died Sunday at a hospital outside of San Quentin.
Prison officials said Romero’s death appears to be from complications related to COVID-19, but a coroner will determine his exact cause of death.
A second general population inmate also died of virus over the weekend