US prisoners deliberately infect themselves with the coronavirus
- At least 21 inmates in the same module at a Los Angeles County jail tested positive for the coronavirus, one week after security footage showed inmates sharing water from the same cup and sniffing the same face mask.
- The inmates allegedly tried to get themselves sick so more inmates could be released.
- At least 357 inmates across all LA county jails have tested positive for the coronavirus.
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At least 21 inmates at a Los Angeles county jail caught the coronavirus after drinking from the same cup, several news outlets reported. According to CNN, security videos show inmates at the North County Correctional Facility sharing cups of water.
According to the Los Angeles Times, 21 of the 50 inmates in the module tested positive. Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva alleged at a press conference that it was a deliberate attempt to infect themselves, meant to pressure the jail to release more people.
The positive cases came a week after the security footage of the incident, on April 26.
"It's sad to think that someone deliberately tried to expose themselves to Covid-19," Villanueva said according to the LA Times. "Somehow there was some mistaken belief among the inmate population that if they tested positive that there was a way to force our hand and somehow release more inmates out of our jail environment - and that's not gonna happen."
Villanueva said the inmates could face criminal prosecution.
"Every inmate has access to their own cup of water which they jealously guard," the Villanueva said according to CNN. "It's not something they share person-to-person, and anyone who practices basic hygiene doesn't do that anyway," Villanueva said. "So, in this environment, and then considering the fact that the 21 tested positive out of that module, shows what their intention was."
CNN added that inmates may use the cup to make instant coffee or instant noodles.
Another security tape from another module shows three inmates sharing the same Styrofoam cup and breathing into one mask, according to the LA Times. While the video was not dated, Lt. John Satterfield told the LA Times it was taken on April 15.
Since April 30, the number of inmates in LA County jails who have tested positive for the coronavirus has tripled to 357.
Additionally, 4,500 inmates across all LA County jails are in quarantine, 2,000 of which are at the same prison where inmates appear to have deliberately tried to infect themselves. Those in quarantine either shared a cell with someone whose positive for the virus or are waiting on test results.
According to CNN, only inmates who showed symptoms were tested for the virus at the time of the videos, however, everyone started being tested on May 3.
The LA Times reports that while Villanueva may have reduced the prison population, some are still critical that the county isn't doing enough to protect inmates. A class-action lawsuit was brought against LA County and claimed prisoners lack soap, are unable to social distance, and are not being tested even when they have symptoms.
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