Here's Where Coronavirus Cases Have Doubled in Just One Month
Cases of coronavirus have doubled in U.S. prisons since mid-May.
While coronavirus numbers have been going down in many states throughout the U.S., they've spiked sharply among the stateside prison population. According to a June 16 report from The New York Times, coronavirus cases have doubled in U.S. prisons in just a single month, with 68,000 incarcerated people testing positive for coronavirus.
The death toll among the incarcerated population has also risen sharply during the same time period. Since mid-May, the coronavirus death rate among U.S. prisoners has shot up an alarming 73 percent. Experts believe the actual numbers may be higher due to the relatively low number of coronavirus tests that have been given to incarcerated individuals. According to the Times, just 3 percent of New York state's incarcerated population has been tested for coronavirus, while less than 7 percent of inmates at California's most populated prisons have been tested.
However, it's not just inmates who are contracting the virus at staggering rates; according to the Bureau of Prisons (BOP), 170 members of Bureau of Prisons staff have tested positive for coronavirus, including 1 death; 502 BOP staffers have recovered from the virus thus far.
Unfortunately, experts say it's particularly difficult to stem the spread of the virus in prisons. "Congregate living facilities such as prisons are high-risk for COVID and other infectious disease because many people are in close quarters and the focus is usually not on sanitation and infection control," explains physician Leann Poston, MD, a medical expert with Invigor Medical.
While some states—including New York, California, Florida, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Pennsylvania—have attempted to mitigate the virus' spread by releasing some inmates early, Poston says that these measures will only do so much.
Even with the release of some inmates, "the constant influx of people, each with their own network of personal contacts, increases the risk of infection." Poston does point to one potential means of reducing the virus' spread, however—increasing the number of inmates tested, and separating them from the rest of the population whenever possible.
"COVID infections in prisons will be difficult to control unless overcrowding is alleviated, aggressive testing and contact testing is done, and a space where people with symptoms and/or positive tests can be isolated is found," she explains. And for more insight into where coronavirus is spreading rapidly, check out these 6 States Where Coronavirus Numbers Are Spiking.