2 California prisoners die of suspected virus complications

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Two more inmates at San Quentin State Prison near San Francisco died from what appear to be complications of the coronavirus, corrections officials said Monday.

The inmates, including one on death row, died Sunday at outside hospitals, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said.

Orlando G. Romero, 48, had been sentenced to death in 1996 for first-degree murder and second-degree robbery while armed with a firearm. He was sent to death row in 1996 after a judge found him and his brother, Christopher Self, then 21, guilty of choosing victims at random during a violent string of robberies.

Riverside residents Joey Mans, 26, and Kipp Jones, 24, were shot to death near Lake Mathews in 1992. Jose Aragon, 22, of Redlands was gunned down by the brothers about a month later in San Timoteo Canyon, near Beaumont, the Press-Enterprise reported.

A general population inmate at San Quentin also died Sunday. No further details were provided.

The prisoners were the latest of 21 at San Quentin, including nine condemned inmates, to die of complications related to COVID-19. The virus has killed more than two-thirds the number of condemned inmates executed since 1978, when California reinstated capital punishment. A total of 13 death row inmates have been executed in four decades. The last inmate to be executed was Clarence Ray Allen in 2006.

The prison is the hardest-hit in California and has reported 2,181 inmates, about two-thirds of the population, have contracted the virus. San Quentin has reported more cases than the next two hardest-hit prisons combined. The prison also has the highest number of infected staff with 258 employees testing positive for the virus.

Across the state, 49 inmates have died. There have been nearly 8,300 cases among inmates, including nearly 1,400 that are considered active cases of infection.

More than 1,000 prison employees have active cases, authorities said.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. But for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause pneumonia and death.

Categories: California News, Coronavirus, Health