COVID-19 infection rate in U.S. prisons hits 34 pct, says expert

2021-08-20 11:12:47Xinhua Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download
Special: Battle Against Novel Coronavirus

The COVID-19 infection rate in U.S. prisons has reached 34 percent, an expert has said.

"Prisons and jails have hosted some of the largest COVID-19 outbreaks in the U.S., with some facilities approaching 4,000 cases ... in U.S. prisons, the rate is 34 out of 100," Danielle Wallace, associate professor of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the Arizona State University, wrote in an article published Wednesday on The Conversation, a Melbourne-based online media outlet that publishes news stories and articles by academics and researchers.

A main reason for such a high COVID-19 infection rate is correctional officers, who have been playing a leading role in spreading infectious diseases for years, Wallace noted, calling them "a weak link."

"Current prison conditions -- including poor ventilation, overcrowding and a lack of space for social distancing, and isolation -- make respiratory diseases like COVID-19 very difficult to control," she said, adding that many U.S. states have remained at a prisoner capacity of at least 100 percent during the pandemic.

Wallace also attributed the high infection rate in U.S. prisons to short staffing as well as low vaccination rates among correctional officers and incarcerated people.

"Across all states, incarcerated people have not been prioritized for the vaccine. Even when the vaccines are available, many incarcerated people are skeptical about receiving them due to mistrust of prison officials," she said.


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