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Saloner B, Parish K, Ward JA, DiLaura G, Dolovich S. COVID-19 Cases and Deaths in Federal and State Prisons. JAMA. Published online July 08, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.12528
Novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) represents a challenge to prisons because of close confinement, limited access to personal protective equipment, and elevated burden of cardiac and respiratory conditions that exacerbate COVID-19 risk among prisoners.1 Although news reports document prison outbreaks of COVID-19, systematic data are lacking.2 Relying on officially reported data, we examined COVID-19 case rates and deaths among federal and state prisoners.
Counts of COVID-19 cases and presumed or confirmed deaths among prisoners were collected daily by the UCLA Law COVID-19 Behind Bars Data Project from March 31, 2020, to June 6, 2020.3 Counts were extracted daily from departments of corrections websites and, as needed, supplemented with news reports and press releases. Data included all states, the District of Columbia, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Cases were reported cumulatively (including active confirmed cases, recoveries, and decedents). Deaths attributable to COVID-19 were defined by each department of corrections based on the determination of the departments of corrections or external medical examiners. COVID-19 case rates and deaths for the states were obtained for the same period from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.4
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