One in five people incarcerated in federal and state prisons has contracted the coronavirus – a rate that is more than four times the total population.
According to the Associated Press and the Marshall Project, at least 275,000 U.S. inmates have discovered the virus, 1,700 have died, and new cases in prisons have reached their highest level since testing began this week. In addition, some believe that the actual number of inmates contracted the coronavirus could be much higher.
"That number is hugely outnumbered," Homer Venters, the former chief medical officer of New York's Rikers Island prison complex, told the AP.
Venters said he conducted more than a dozen court-ordered coronavirus inspections across the country. What he saw is an amazing and clear neglect of the inmates.
"I still come across prisons and prisons where people who get sick are not only not tested but also not cared for. So they get a lot sicker than they need to," said Venters.
The effects of the coronavirus pandemic outside the prison walls in America are well known. America tops all countries in coronavirus cases with more than 17 million, deaths with more than 300,000, and new cases in the last two weeks with more than 2.7 million. About 885,000 Americans also filed for the first time unemployed clams last week, and while the government is still debating a second stimulus package, millions of Americans are struggling to have no job, money, food, or some combination of the three.
Donte Westmoreland, who was recently released from Kansas jail, told the AP he was in an open dorm with more than 100 infected men and had regularly found infected men on the floor who were literally too sick to stand up.
"People are actually dying from this virus before me, it's the scariest sight," Westmoreland said, adding that it took him six weeks to get through the virus.
In some states, prison workers are just as likely to be infected with the virus as inmates. In Nevada, 2,442 inmates and 561 employees have tested positive for the virus.