TUESDAY July 14, 2020 (HealthDay News) – COVID-19 levels in American prisons are almost six times higher than in the general population. And the COVID death rate among prisoners is likely to triple, the researchers report.
“Although these figures are striking, we actually believe that the disparities within prisons are much greater,” said the study’s lead author, Brendan Saloner, associate professor of health policy and management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
“Some prisons report no cases, others do not even test detainees, so the need for policies to protect incarcerated populations is more important than ever,” Saloner added in a Hopkins press release.
Researchers analyzed cases of coronavirus and deaths from March 31 to June 6. The COVID-19 rate among inmates was 3,251 per 100,000, compared to 587 cases per 100,000 in the general population. It’s 5.5 times more, they said.
The COVID mortality rate was 39 deaths per 100,000 inmates, compared to 29 per 100,000 in the general population. After adjusting for age and gender differences, the death rate would be three times higher among inmates than in the non-prison population, according to the researchers.
Inmates are particularly vulnerable to the spread of a highly infectious disease like COVID-19 due to their tight confinement and limited access to personal protective equipment. High rates of pre-existing respiratory and heart disease also increase their sensitivity, the researchers said.
“Detainees have the right to adequate health protection while incarcerated,” said Saloner. “The reality of these results shows that we are not close to meeting their basic needs. Ultimately, this creates a dangerous situation for detainees, prison staff, the communities in which prisons are located and in our overall effort to contain the crisis. “
During the study period, coronavirus cases in prisons increased by about 8% per day, compared to about 3% in the general population, the study found.
Researchers have identified more than 42,100 cases and 510 deaths among nearly 1.3 million residents of American prisons. In the general population, there were 1.9 million infections and approximately 95,600 deaths in the general population.
The results were published online July 8 as a research letter in American Medical Association Journal.
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