"We're entering what may be the toughest and deadliest period of the virus..." Amid the inaugural pomp and circumstance, President Joe Biden made this dire prediction but also promised policies to eventually subdue a pandemic that has infected a staggering 24 million Americans and left a death rate expected to top 500,000 by the end of February.
But to be successful, the President will have to go to prison.
Coronavirus has disproportionately impacted the 2.3 million people incarcerated in correctional facilities where the country’s largest and most lethal outbreaks occur. These infection hotspots are even more dangerous than long term care facilities, bars or cruise ships. One out of every five state and federal prisoners is positive — a COVID-19 infection rate almost four times higher than the nation at large. The death rate is 45 percent higher than the general population.
For the incarcerated and the staff who monitor them, COVID-19 morphs from a crisis into a public health disaster.
This prompted Philadelphia officials — State Senators Anthony Hardy Williams and Sharif Street in Harrisburg and Councilmembers Cindy Bass and Kenyatta Johnson locally — to conduct public hearings within the past month to assess the extent of the problem in state and county jails and to develop solutions to stop the spread of the virus.
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