Home>Articles>Department of Corrections Replaces Top Medical Officer Following Rising Coronavirus Cases

Outside the California Institution for Men in Chino. (Photo: cdcr.ca.gov/)

Department of Corrections Replaces Top Medical Officer Following Rising Coronavirus Cases

Nearly 2,400 prisoners currently have coronavirus due to lack of health safety measures

By Evan Symon, July 7, 2020 7:46 pm

On Tuesday, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) replaced its top medical officer, Dr. R. Steven Tharratt, following continuing criticism over a growing coronavirus outbreak in the California prison system.

The CDCR has said that close to 2,400 prisoners currently have the coronavirus. Despite prisons quickly formulating plans to stop the spread and thousands of non-violent prisoners near the end of their sentence being released early, cases have continued to grow. 1,400 prisoners alone have coronavirus at San Quentin, the result of a transfer of infected individuals from Chino. And additional 250 prisoners were then infected at the California Correctional Center following a transfer from San Quentin.

The failure over the transfers adding to the continued spread among prisons was one of the chief reasons for Dr. Tharratt’s ousting early Tuesday.

“We are in unprecedented times as we deal with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said California Correctional Health Care Services Receiver J. Clark Kelso in a statement to the press. “In order to meet current response needs while also working toward further delegations of medical care back to state control, it has become evident that a reorganization is necessary for long-term sustainability.”

Kelso, who had been appointed by a federal judge to oversee health care in California prisons in 2008, will keep Dr. Tharratt on as an advisor despite the continued spread.

Many critics have said that enough is not being done.

“They’re keeping prisons overcrowded and prisoners close together,” said prison consultant Doug Gilmore to the California Globe. “And they’re transferring people full-well knowing some are carrying it. It’s shameful. There’s no way they can safely social distance like that.

“Yes, these men and women did bad things, but they don’t deserve to die because of their circumstances. We’ve always known that prisons are quick breeding grounds for whatever bug is going around , and it’s the same with COVID-19. And despite that and full well knowing what mismanagement can do, they’ve done it.

“They aren’t fixing the problem, they’re just trying to jerry-rig something together.

“The staff are vulnerable too don’t forget. Nearly 200 have gotten coronavirus. And since they leave to go home, this only increases the chances that this won’t go away any time soon.”

Many California lawmakers, such as Governor Gavin Newsom, have been vocal on the issue of the prisoners, especially the prisoner transfers that have been spreading the coronavirus. Governor Newsom himself has said that the transfers ‘should not have happened.’

While the CDCR reorganizes its medical staff and measures within prisons to limit infections, others are also acting both in and outside prison walls.

Some prisoners are currently on a hunger strike to bring attention to their plight, while California lawmakers in Sacramento have gone over many California prison health standards due to the outbreak.

As of Tuesday, it has yet to be announced on who will succeed Dr. Tharratt’s position.

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5 thoughts on “Department of Corrections Replaces Top Medical Officer Following Rising Coronavirus Cases

  1. You should also mention that two inmates on Death Row at San Quentin succumbed to the virus, a cop-killer and a child molester/murderer. Somehow, I am unable to feel bad about this, and I don’t have a whole lot of sympathy for the other prisoners getting sick, either.

  2. Call me jaded but there is something telling me that these positive cases were put into different prisons on purpose. Just like the elderly care homes. They are more concerned about these prisoners than they were for the elderly that were mass murdered. Everything they do benefits them in the long run. They will try to dismantle the prison system or give prisoners more rights or something to that effect.

    1. For what it’s worth April, I don’t think you’re jaded at all, you’re just paying attention.
      I’m definitely with you that this stuff is being done on purpose.

    2. @ April

      I have a feeling you are 100% correct. Democrats could care less about anyone unless they are useful to them in some way, and they just may have a plan for these people outside prison.

      As far as the prisons themselves and letting so many go, I doubt the plan is to ‘ close ‘ them but rather repurpose them for something else. I wouldn’t doubt it a bit if they start throwing citizens in there or threatening to throw them in. There is nothing else a prison or jail is useful for, and the democrat hate for anyone who does not bow to them is really starting to border on being inhumane, cruel and evil.

      Obviously I’m only guessing on both, but I’ve learned to take note of what these people are doing and observe how they operate. In doing so I can many times figure out what they’re up to, and I can almost always see the result of their actions before reality strikes.

  3. These are mostly violent criminals who have committed heinous acts and would likely be dead if the death penalty was enforced. As inmates many are abusive to others using their feces and bodily fluid as infective weapons. This could explain how conditions spread the virus. Another question is how prevalent COVID-19 is among blacks and hispanics and the aged in prison.
    “Those who are kind to the cruel end up being cruel to the kind.”
    Law abiding citizens are subject to cruel consequences… evil does not respect mercy.

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