People in prisons and jails are 5.5 times more likely to get Covid-19 and three times more likely to die from it, according to a study from researchers at Johns Hopkins and UCLA published today in JAMA, putting numbers to disparate evidence of the virality of the disease in prison settings.
With the findings, the researchers conclude systemic change is needed: “COVID-19 in US prisons is unlikely to be contained without implementation of more effective infection control.”
The UCLA Law COVID-19 Behind Bars Data Project collected data from March 31 to June 6 from correctional facility websites, news reports and press releases on both state and federal prisons in all states and the District of Columbia, which they compared to data from the same period from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the general population.
Close confinement, limited PPE and increased risk of cardiac and respiratory conditions makes prison populations especially vulnerable to coronavirus, says the report.
Comprehensive data on testing rates for both prisons and the overall population remain an issue; as the researchers note, some prisons test no inmates or only inmates that are symptomatic.
In facilities with outbreaks where prisoners were tested en masse, infection rate exceeded 65% in multiple cases.
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