Macmadu, Alexandria; Brinkley-Rubinstein, Lauren
Essential Strategies to Curb COVID-19 Transmission in Prisons and Jails
Teil von
  • American journal of public health (1971), 2021-05, Vol.111 (5), p.776-777
Ort / Verlag
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Web of Science
As of February 15, 2021, there were more than 464000 COVID-19 infections and at least 2400 deaths among incarcerated persons and staff members in prisons, jails, and detention centers across the United States.1 Efforts to prevent and contain outbreaks in correctional facilities have been stymied by entrenched, hyperpunitive attitudes toward people who are incarcerated-held by politicians and members of the public alike-and by prevailing misconceptions that correctional facilities are self-contained. Although prisons and jails appear to be detached from our communities by fences, walls, and bars, their populations are dynamic. Their walls are permeable. Each day, thousands of persons are admitted and released, and staff return home to their families. As a result, disease outbreaks that occur in prisons and jails rarely stay there. In April 2020, nearly 16% of all COVID-19 cases in Illinois were traced back to Chicago's Cook CountyJail2 Despite these risks to the lives of incarcerated persons, staff members, and the communities to which they all return, monetary resources, protocols to control and contain outbreaks, and other mitigation activities in correctional facilities have been woefully insufficient. In this issue of AJPH, Tompkins et al. (p. 907) document the point prevalence of COVID-19 among incarcerated persons (30.5%) and staff members (2.3%) in a correctional facility in Arkansas. The authors found that among incarcerated persons who tested positive and responded to a questionnaire about symptoms, 81% were asymptomatic. The findings from this research reinforce the urgent need for widespread implementation of three essential strategies to reduce COVID-19 spread in correctional settings: mass testing, prioritized vaccination, and, critically, decarceration.

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