Stars and Stripes stripes.com 18 Dec, 2020 14:00 am

One in five prisoners in the US has had COVID-19, 1,700 have died

One in five prisoners in the US has had COVID-19, 1,700 have died
New cases in prisons this week reached their highest level since testing began in the spring, far outstripping previous peaks in April and August.

In some states, more than half of prisoners have been infected, according to data collected by The Associated Press and The Marshall Project As the pandemic enters its 10th month — and as the first Americans begin to receive a long-awaited COVID-19 vaccine — at least 275,000 prisoners have been infected, more than 1,700 have died and the spread of the virus behind bars shows no sign of slowing.Some 5,100 prisoners have become infected in Kansas prisons, the third-highest COVID-19 rate in the country, behind only South Dakota and Arkansas."We call that 'screwing county,'" said John Wetzel, Pennsylvania's secretary of corrections, whose prison system has one of the lower COVID-19 case rates in the country, with one in every seven prisoners infected.'" Nearly every prison system in the country has seen infection rates significantly higher than the communities around them.

Infection rates as of Tuesday were calculated by the AP and The Marshall Project,  a nonprofit news organization covering the criminal justice system, based on data collected weekly in prisons since March."If we are going to end this pandemic — bring down infection rates, bring down death rates, bring down ICU occupancy rates — we have to address infection rates in correctional facilities," said Emily Wang, professor at Yale School of Medicine and co-author of the recent National Academies report.

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