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Key Dental Operations at San Quentin State Prison Shut Down Due to Safety Issues


Dentists Disciplined After Voicing Concerns About Coronavirus

San Quentin, CA (September 2, 2020) – On September 2, Cal/OSHA posted a red tag at San Quentin State Prison after dentists complained about the spread of coronavirus at the facility. 

San Quentin has experienced a large coronavirus outbreak. More than 2,200 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 and 26 have died. More than 270 staff members have been infected and one has died.

The dental clinic, which treats inmates, employs six dentists. They claim San Quentin officials failed to address their concerns about the spread of COVID-19 through dental procedures. The California Dental Association issued guidance that dentists should suspend all non-essential dental procedures. However, San Quentin dentists said their supervisor ordered them to continue routine screenings of inmates. In addition, new inmates were not being quarantined for 14 days.

The dentists made several requests, such as special masks, air filtering devices, and air scrubbers, but they were not honored. Cal/OSHA inspected the facility in August and agreed that the dentists were being asked to perform “high-hazard” dental procedures. Cal/OSHA issued an Order Prohibiting Use, which means the clinic must stop all dental work that generates aerosols from a patient’s mouth until it can meet various safety conditions.

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