Courtesy of JOTF
**FILE** Courtesy of JOTF

Twenty percent of state and federal prisoners have tested positive for coronavirus — four times the national rate — according to data collected by The Associated Press and The Marshall Project.

The data shows that in some states, more than half of the prisoners have been infected with the virus. The project reported more than 1,700 inmates have died from the coronavirus since the pandemic’s onset.

The data has been collected weekly by the project since March.

The project revealed the spread of the disease behind bars shows no sign of slowing and new cases in prisons this week reached their highest levels since testing began in the spring, outpacing previous peaks in April and August.

Homer Venters, the former chief medical officer at Rikers Island jail in New York City, said he has led in excess of a dozen court-ordered COVID-19 prison inspections throughout the country and has concluded the number of inmates infected is a “vast undercount.”

“I still encounter prisons and jails where, when people get sick, not only are they not tested but they don’t receive care,” Venters said, AP reported. “So they get much sicker than need be.”

As of Friday, the U.S. has roughly 17.3 million coronavirus cases and 312,000 virus-related deaths, both tops globally, a Johns Hopkins University tracker.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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