At least three death row inmates at California’s San Quentin State Prison had coronavirus and died, corrections officials says.
Scott Thomas Erskine, 57, and Manuel Machado Alvarez, 59, died Friday from “what appear to be complications related to Covid-19,” the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said in a statement.
Both men had been hospitalized outside the prison.
An outbreak of the virus has overrun San Quentin since last month, with more than a third of incarcerated people there testing positive for Covid-19, according to CDCR data.
Earlier this week, authorities confirmed that Richard Stitely, another death row inmate who was found unresponsive in his cell, had the virus. That was the first known death linked to coronavirus in the facility.
A fourth death row inmate, Joseph Safarino Cordova, died Wednesday but it’s unclear whether he tested positive for the virus.
The deaths of 24 incarcerated people in state prisons have been linked to Covid-19, the CDCR said.
San Quentin is among numerous prisons and jails across the country that have become hotbeds for the virus.
State officials said they’ve increased testing among prisoners and staff and recently created a “unified command center” at the prison to coordinate the medical response to Covid-19 cases.
“Ten of thousands of additional pieces of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) have been sent to San Quentin and distributed to both inmates and staff and strict guidelines have been provided mandating their use while on institution grounds,” the CDCR said on Friday.
Erskine was on California’s death row since 2004. He was sentenced for the 1993 murders of 13-year-old Charles Keever and 9-year-old Jonathon Sellers, who were last seen riding their bicycles in San Diego.
Alvarez was on death row since 1989. He was sentenced for first-degree murder, vehicle theft, forcible rape and first-degree robbery for crimes committed over a four-day period in 1987, the corrections department said.
CNN’s Topher Gauk-Roger contributed to this report.