1 in 5 prisoners in the US has had COVID-19, 1,700 have died

1 in 5 prisoners in the US has had COVID-19, 1,700 have died
Family members of inmates incarcerated in the Utah Department of Corrections' prison system hold candles and say a prayer following a rally outside the Department of Corrections office in Draper, Utah. Source: AP
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Daily US Times: One in every five federal and state prisoners in the US has tested positive for the Covid-19, a rate more than four times as high as the general population. According to data collected by the Associated Press (AP) and The Marshall Project, In some states, more than half of prisoners have been infected.

As the coronavirus pandemic enters its 10th month — and as the first Americans begin to receive a long-awaited vaccine — at least 275,000 prisoners have been infected by the virus, more than 1,700 have died and the spread of the virus behind bars shows no sign of slowing. This week, new cases in prisons reached their highest level since testing began in the spring, far outstripping previous peaks in April and August. Data shows the prisoners in the US got more infection rates.

Homer Venters, the former chief medical officer at New York’s Rikers Island jail complex, said: “That number is a vast undercount.”

Venters has conducted more than a dozen court-ordered coronavirus prison inspections around the country. He said: “I still encounter prisons and jails where, when people get sick, not only are they not tested but they don’t receive care. So they get much sicker than need be.”

Now the rollout of vaccines poses difficult decisions for policymakers and politicians. As the Covid-19 spreads largely unchecked behind bars, prisoners can not social distance and are dependent on the state for their safety and well-being.

Nearly every prison system in the US has seen coronavirus infection rates significantly higher than the communities around them.

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