Los Angeles County Jail

LA Sheriff Says Inmates Tried to Infect Themselves With Coronavirus

The sheriff also said the inmates used hot water to try to raise their temperatures just before a nurse checked them.

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A group of inmates at a Los Angeles County jail tried to infect themselves with the coronavirus by sharing a cup of water and a mask and within a week 21 prisoners tested positive, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Monday.

At a briefing, Villanueva showed surveillance videos from two units at the North County Correctional Facility in Castaic.

The footage captured inmates in one unit sharing a cup of hot water and others in a second unit sharing a mask.

Actor and comedian Jerry Stiller died from natural causes on Monday at the age of 92.

The sheriff said the inmates used hot water to try to raise their temperatures just before a nurse checked them. An elevated temperature is a symptom for coronavirus.

Villanueva said the inmates mistakenly believed that if they were infected they would be freed.

“It's dismaying and it's disheartening,” he said.

Medical experts worry about a spike in new cases as more places are set to reopen, even though they’re expected to enforce new guidelines. Kim Tobin reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. Sunday, May 10, 2020.

The sheriff's department, which oversees the nation's largest jail system, has released more than 5,000 inmates during the pandemic to create more social distancing.

The department has freed inmates using several qualifications, including if they are within 60 days of release. Inmates who are awaiting COVID-19 test results are being held in a downtown jail's hospital ward or being treated at a county hospital if their symptoms are more severe.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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