A new court filing in a federal class-action lawsuit is demanding the release or transfer of half the psychiatric patients at Southern California’s Patton State Hospital, where nearly 700 people have contracted the coronavirus and 10 patients have died since May. In the documents, lawyers with Disability Rights California and the law firm Covington & Burling call the San Bernardino facility a “tinderbox” for COVID-19 cases. “Defendants have failed to conduct an adequate systematic review of high-risk patients in order to identify who can be safely discharged to a less dangerous setting; facilitate the release or transfer of such high-risk patients to safer, non- or less-congregate settings; or otherwise reduce the patient population to allow for anything close to adequate social distancing,” reads the court filing. The class-action lawsuit was filed on behalf of four patients at Patton, who have all contracted the coronavirus, along with hundreds of other detainees.
In response to the emergency request, state attorneys asked for a pause on the case, arguing, “DSH anticipates that a sufficient number of doses of an approved Covid-19 vaccine will be made available for inoculation of more than half of DSH healthcare staff in the highest level priority category in early January 2021.”