In a disturbing video, inmates of Los Angeles based North County Correctional Facility, broke the social distancing norms while trying to get themselves infected with the coronavirus. The inmates were seen taking sips of water from a common container and breathing into a single mask.
The number of infected cases in the United States is nearing 1.4 million. Emerging as the new epicentre of the global pandemic, the US has so far reported over 81,000 deaths.
Thirty inmates test positive after their attempt at getting infected
The irresponsible act led to 30 inmates testing positive, a week after they were caught on camera flouting the social distancing norms. In the first video, which was captured on April 26, an inmate filled a container with hot water from a dispenser placed inside a dorm. He is then can be seen walking over to a line of inmates waiting to see a nurse. Soon, three inmates could be seen taking swigs from the container. 21 inmates, housed in this area, were tested positive for coronavirus.
In the second undated video, inmates in another module were caught sharing a Styrofoam cup and breathing into the same face mask. Nine inmates were tested positive from this module of the jail.
"Every inmate has access to their own cup of water which they jealously guard. They use it to cook ramen noodles or make instant coffee, for example. It's not something they share person-to-person, and anyone who practices basic hygiene doesn't do that anyway. So, in this environment, and then considering the fact that the 21 tested positive out of that module, shows what their intention was," Sheriff Alex Villanueva, said during a press conference on Monday.
Inmates trying to use coronavirus card to seek temporary release
According to the jail authorities, the deliberate actions carried out by the inmates as part of their scheme to get a temporary release after testing positive for COVID-19. However, it remains unclear as to how the virus entered the two modules or whether the inmates knew about someone contracting the virus and not reporting it. Following the incident, the jail authorities conducted an enquiry.
"The department is exploring criminal prosecution for those who intentionally spread the virus. The investigators interviewed individuals involved but no one admitted to the scheme. I think their behaviour itself is what convicts them," Villanueva was quoted by Los Angeles Times.
"It's sad to think that someone deliberately tried to expose themselves to COVID-19. Somehow there was some mistaken belief among the inmate population that if they tested positive that there was a way to force our hand and somehow release more inmates out of our jail environment — and that's not gonna happen," he added.