[Pnews] A State-by-State Look at Coronavirus in Prisons - at least 182, 593 people have tested positive

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Nov 13 13:00:15 EST 2020

State-by-State Look at Coronavirus in Prisons
By The Marshall Project - November 12, 2020

Since March, The Marshall Project has been tracking
how many people are being sickened and killed by COVID-19 in prisons and
how widely it has spread across the country and within each state. Here, we
will regularly update these figures counting the number of people infected
and killed nationwide and in each prison system until the crisis abates.

*This reporting was undertaken in partnership with The Associated Press.*

By Nov. 10, at least 182,593 people in prison had tested positive for the
illness, an 8 percent increase from the week before.

New infections this week rose sharply to their highest level since the
start of the pandemic, far outpacing the previous peak in early August.
Iowa, Michigan and the federal prison system each saw more than 1,000
prisoners test positive this week, while Texas prisons surpassed 2,000 new

Reported cases first peaked in late April, when states such as Michigan,
Ohio, Tennessee and Texas began mass testing of prisoners
Those initiatives suggested that coronavirus had been circulating among
people without symptoms in much greater numbers than previously known.

There have been at least 182,593 cases of coronavirus reported among

132,013 prisoners have recovered.
State Total cases Per 10,000 prisoners New cases over time
Texas 25,548 2,109
Federal 20,495 1,390
Florida 16,969 2,006
California 16,749 1,721
Arkansas 8,343 5,302
Michigan 8,295 2,400
Ohio 7,121 1,581
Wisconsin 5,745 2,718
Tennessee 5,705 2,964
Oklahoma 4,702 2,139
North Carolina 4,555 1,453
Kansas 4,406 5,135
Missouri 4,226 1,777
Virginia 4,190 1,600
New Jersey 3,114 2,012
Illinois 3,008 963
Arizona 2,667 677
Iowa 2,426 3,295
Louisiana 2,416 1,688
South Carolina 2,378 1,446
Idaho 2,249 3,029
Minnesota 2,138 2,822
Georgia 2,095 420
South Dakota 2,009 6,166
Colorado 1,996 1,325
Indiana 1,726 704
Connecticut * 1,686 1,766
New York 1,644 444
Kentucky 1,524 1,439
Oregon 1,315 974
New Mexico 1,120 1,818
Pennsylvania 1,093 255
Maryland 1,039 595
Utah 886 1,521
Hawaii * 878 2,110
Montana 865 2,226
Mississippi 816 523
Alabama 711 —
Delaware * 579 1,373
Massachusetts 557 —
Washington 537 347
West Virginia 440 1,016
Alaska * 357 809
Nebraska 283 —
North Dakota 271 2,287
Vermont * 240 1,694
Nevada 170 147
Wyoming 125 —
Maine 125 701
Rhode Island * 60 —
New Hampshire 1 5

* An asterisk denotes state counts that include both pre-trial detainees
and sentenced prisoners under a unified system of jails and prisons.

Source: State and federal prison agencies

The first known COVID-19 death of a prisoner was in Georgia when Anthony
Cheek died on March 26. Cheek, who was 49 years old, had been held in Lee
State Prison near Albany, a hotspot for the disease. Since then, at least
1,411 other prisoners have died of coronavirus-related causes. By Nov. 10,
the total number of deaths had risen by 4 percent in a week.

There have been at least 1,412 deaths from coronavirus reported among

Given the huge differences in how many people are being tested in prisons
for the virus, the effects of the pandemic have varied widely between
different state prison systems. The first reported cases began popping up
in Massachusetts and Georgia on March 20. In August, Hawaii, the last
system whose prisoners had not gotten sick, reported its first confirmed
cases of coronavirus. Here, you can choose to view the data for any state
prison system and see how the numbers compare. For a summary of the number
of cases in facilities run by the federal Bureau of Prisons, choose the
“Federal” option.

Texas' Department of Criminal Justice publishes figures that had been
labeled as number of people tested. In fact, those numbers could include
the same individual more than once if they were tested multiple times. So
we have revised the testing figures and removed them from our rate
calculations here accordingly. In late October, one prisoner whose death
had been initially classified as coronavirus-related, was changed, and thus
the total number of deaths from Aug. 18 to Oct. 13 were adjusted
Prison staff

While we know more about how prisoners are getting sick, another group of
people is at risk in these facilities: correctional officers, nurses,
chaplains, wardens and other workers. We know little about how coronavirus
is affecting them, though they have the potential to carry it both into
facilities and back out to their communities. It’s difficult to assess how
prison workers are being affected because many aren’t being systematically

In the most recent week, 18 states—Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho,
Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri,
North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West
Virginia—released information on the number of their staff members tested
for coronavirus. Where we do know about positive cases, most state
corrections departments stress that the count includes only the employees
who voluntarily report a diagnosis, often in the course of calling out sick.

Since the start of the pandemic, more than 41,927 prison staff members have
tested positive—with new cases at an all-time high this week. Ninety-three
deaths have been publicly reported.

We know very little about how many staff are tested, and in many states
it’s not clear how many people are working in prisons right now. What we do
know is that in several states prison employees began to get sick before
the people they oversee. Using this tool, you can view the data for any
state’s prison system and see how the numbers compare. For a summary of the
number of cases in facilities administered by the federal Bureau of
Prisons, choose the “Federal” option.

There have been at least 2,526 cases of coronavirus reported among staff in the
Federal prison system.

1,543 staff have recovered.

There have been at least 2 deaths from coronavirus reported among staff in the
Federal prison system.

The Marshall Project will continue to track and publish data on coronavirus
in our prison systems. If you have updates to the data to share or other
comments, please contact us at info+covidtracker at themarshallproject.org.

We are publishing the raw data we have collected at data.world
in partnership with the Associated Press, and on Github
<https://github.com/themarshallproject/COVID_prison_data>. You can download
the data to examine for yourself or to use in your research. If you do use
our data, please let us know <info+covidtracker at themarshallproject.org>.


Since March 26, reporters from The Marshall Project and the Associated
Press have been collecting data on COVID-19 tests administered to people
incarcerated in all state and federal prisons, as well as the staff in
those facilities. We request this data every week from state departments of
corrections and the federal Bureau of Prisons; however, not all departments
provide data for the date requested. These numbers have been grouped by the
week the data was collected.

For six states with unified prison and jail systems—Alaska, Connecticut,
Delaware, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Vermont—we count testing and case numbers
from both detainees awaiting trial and sentenced prisoners. Similarly, in
Maryland, several pre-trial facilities in Baltimore City are included in
the figures.

To estimate the rate of infection among prisoners, we collected population
data for each prison system before the pandemic, roughly in mid-March, and
in April and June. Beginning the week of July 28, we updated all prisoner
population numbers, reflecting the number of incarcerated adults in state
or federal prisons. Prior to that, population figures may have included
additional populations, such as prisoners housed in other facilities, which
were not captured in our COVID-19 data. In states with unified prison and
jail systems, we include both detainees awaiting trial and sentenced

We calculate the rates of infection and death per 10,000 prisoners to allow
for the easiest comparison with most prison systems. In early versions of
this project, we had used a rate of 100,000 prisoners. An earlier version
of the May 27 tables counting positives and deaths mislabeled the rate
column with the wrong denominator and has been corrected.

The overall U.S. rate of infection was calculated using case counts from The
COVID Tracking Project <https://covidtracking.com/> and population data
from the U.S. Census Bureau.

To estimate the rate of infection among prison employees, we collected
staffing numbers for each system before the pandemic, roughly in mid-March,
and in mid-April. Where current data was not publicly available, we
acquired other numbers through our reporting, including calling agencies or
from state budget documents. In six states, we were unable to find recent
staffing figures and thus did not calculate rates: Alaska, Hawaii,
Kentucky, Maryland, Montana, Utah.

As with all COVID-19 data, our understanding of the spread and impact of
the virus is limited by the availability of testing. Epidemiology and
public health experts say that aside from a few states that have recently
begun aggressively testing in prisons, it is likely that there are more
cases of COVID-19 circulating undetected in facilities. Sixteen prison
systems, including the Federal Bureau of Prisons, would not release
information about how many prisoners they are testing.

Corrections departments in Indiana, Kansas, Montana, North Dakota and
Wisconsin report coronavirus testing and case data for juvenile facilities;
West Virginia reports figures for juvenile facilities and jails. For
consistency of comparison with other state prison systems, we removed those
facilities from our data that had originally been included prior to July
28. Pennsylvania’s coronavirus data included testing and cases for those
who had been released on parole. We removed these tests and cases for
prisoners from the data prior to July 28. The staff cases remain. Until
early November, West Virginia’s Department of Corrections and
Rehabilitation did not disaggregate its staff numbers by type of facility.
After they began providing itemized numbers on staff cases on Nov. 3, we
only included staff numbers from prisons and work release sites. We have
gone back to past weeks and estimated the staff breakdown based on the
total number of staff in each sector.

In Delaware, the number of prisoner deaths reported for Oct. 27 was
incorrect and should have been 11, not 17. It has been updated here.

Early weeks of data for Vermont included multiple tests of the same
prisoner. Starting on May 13, the data now accurately reflect the number of
individual prisoners tested in Vermont.

In Texas, updates to the data overcounted the number of employee tests for
the weeks of May 13, May 20 and May 27 after the state redesigned its
website and how it classified tests for employees. These figures have been

In Georgia, the prisoner cases and recoveries inadvertently counted some
cases in private prisons and county facilities twice, for most weeks prior
to Sept. 15. These figures have been corrected throughout the data.

Beginning the week of June 2, we moved our data collection up by one day.
Data for that week represents a six-day count of cases between May 28 and
June 2.

For the week of July 14, Michigan undertook an audit of cases and found
duplicates that needed to be removed from its unique numbers. As a result,
the number of cases dropped by 5 percent from the previous week. To
estimate case counts for previous weeks, we have adjusted the original
figures by that percentage. As an additional result of the audit, the
prisoner test numbers fell by 717.

Starting with the week of July 21, South Carolina’s Department of
Corrections began to report cases—but not testing counts—for prisoners held
in “other locations,” such as county jails and hospitals.

The number of staff deaths in Maine for the week of July 21 was wrong. It
should have been 0 and has been corrected.

In the week of Aug. 4, the Federal Bureau of Prisons began to report four
deaths of people who had been released to home confinement, under the
supervision of halfway houses. Their testing and case totals, however, do
not include people on home confinement, and testing figures do not include
private prisons.

In mid-August, Pennsylvania began reporting cases for prisoners and staff
in community correction facilities. We have included these cases starting
with numbers as of Aug. 18, and have updated inmate population figures to
add individuals held in community corrections facilities. The number of
individuals recovered among both staff and prisoners don't count
individuals in community corrections facilities.

The total number of prisoner cases we reported dropped between Aug. 27 and
Aug. 28, when we incorporated a data update from New Jersey that removed
about 4 percent of cases in earlier weeks. New Jersey updated its prisoner
case totals to remove cases where a prisoner tested negative for COVID-19
after initially testing positive. To estimate case counts for previous
weeks, we have adjusted the original figures by that percentage.

The number of staff cases we initially reported for Sept. 22 and Sept. 29
in Massachusetts incorrectly counted 100 additional cases in the state.
Thus, this also showed too many staff cases nationally. We have updated the
figures and charts with the accurate total for both of those weeks.

*Reporting by* Katie Park and Tom Meagher

*Graphics by* Gabe Isman and Katie Park

*Additional reporting by* Cary Aspinwall, Keri Blakinger, Jake Bleiberg,
Andrew R. Calderón, Maurice Chammah, Andrew DeMillo, Eli Hager, Jamiles
Lartey, Claudia Lauer, Nicole Lewis, Weihua Li, Humera Lodhi, Colleen Long,
Joseph Neff, Michelle Pitcher, Alysia Santo, Beth Schwartzapfel, Damini
Sharma, Colleen Slevin, Christie Thompson, Abbie VanSickle, Adria Watson,
Andrew Welsh-Huggins.
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