COVID-19 Case Watch January 13, 2021

This graph shows confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 per 1,000 individuals in the prison and general populations in each state as of January 13, 2021. The left side (orange) refers to the prison population and the right side (blue) refers to the general population.

The rate of COVID in the general population is 69.01 per 1,000 individuals. In the prison population, the rate is 240.05 per 1,000 individuals. On average, the rate of COVID infections in prison populations is almost 3.5 times the rate of COVID infections in the general population. Hawaii and Michigan continue to have prison infection rates that are over 10 times that of the state general population. 

Despite the continued surge of COVID cases in the general population in the last two months, in 47 of the 50 US states, the rate of COVID infections among those imprisoned still exceeds the rate of COVID infections among the general population. The three states with a higher COVID rate in the general population are in the Deep South: Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. In the last month, case rates have continued to increase drastically in prisons in multiple states. The largest increase in prison population case rates in the last month occurred in New Hampshire. In mid-December, only 13 individuals in its prison population of 2,513 had tested positive and by mid-January, 407 had. Case rates in prisons have also increased drastically in Pennsylvania and Washington. The highest case rate in the state prison systems is in Michigan with 23,309 of its incarcerated population (630.31 per 1,000) having tested positive for COVID. Over half of the state’s prison population has tested positive for COVID in Alaska, Arkansas, Kansas, Michigan, and South Dakota. 

Importantly, states have varying testing strategies within prisons and for their general population, indicating that these rates likely reflect a falsely low disease incidence with some states’ rates being more accurate than others.

An Analysis of Interim COVID-19 Vaccination Plans

Each U.S. state is developing programs to plan and operationalize a vaccination response to COVID-19 within their jurisdiction based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 Vaccination Program Interim Playbook for Jurisdiction Operations, released October 29, 2020. States were tasked with developing a vaccine plan that includes three phases, ordered from highest to lowest priority, and ensuring equitable access for CDC defined “critical populations,” including (1) critical infrastructure workforce, (2) people at increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness, (3) people at increased risk of acquiring or transmitting COVID-19, and (4) people with limited access to routine vaccination services. 

CPP analyzed each of these plans to identify in which phase incarcerated people are targeted for COVID-19 vaccination. Fourteen (14) States/Territories have, so far, included incarcerated populations as part of their Phase 1 vaccine distribution; of these 14 States/Territories, two (2) have specifically prioritized incarcerated populations that are medically vulnerable to COVID-19. These populations include incarcerated people that are over the age of 65 or have two or more chronic conditions. Twenty (20) states include incarcerated populations as part of their Phase 2 vaccine distribution. Tennessee and Missouri designate incarcerated populations for vaccination in phase 3; in Missouri, incarcerated people are identified as targets for Phase 3 while correctional staff are targeted for Phase 1. We have categorized Montana as Phase 1 but must note that they organized their prioritization categories as tiers, making their plan more difficult to discern. In addition, in both Michigan and Rhode Island, they distinguish between medically vulnerable incarcerated people and the rest of the population. They have included only the medically vulnerable incarcerated people in Phase 1. Fourteen (14) states did not explicitly identify how they would prioritize incarcerated populations in the distribution of vaccines. The image below shows how states have categorized incarcerated people into various phases for vaccine distribution. This analysis and figure are being updated as information about the states’ final plans (turned into the CDC on Friday, December 4) become available. 

COVID Case Watch December 10, 2020

This graph shows confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 per 1,000 individuals in the prison and general populations in each state as of December 10, 2020. The left side (orange) refers to the prison population and the right side (blue) refers to the general population. 

The rate of COVID in the general population is 46.61 per 1,000 individuals. In the prison population, the rate is 176.33 per 1,000 individuals. On average, the rate of COVID infections in prison populations remains almost four times the rate of COVID infections in the general population. Hawaii and Michigan have prison infection rates that are over 10 times that of the state general population. 

Despite the recent surge of COVID cases in the general population in the last two months, in 45 of the 50 US states, the rate of COVID infections among those imprisoned still exceeds the rate of COVID infections among the general population. In the last two weeks, case rates have continued to increase drastically in prisons in multiple states. The largest increase in prison population cases this past week has occurred in Rhode Island. Last week, 283 of the state’s 2,395 incarcerated population had tested positive. By this week, 623 had tested positive. Case rates in prisons have also increased drastically in Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Michigan, Utah, and Washington. The highest case rate in the state prison systems remains in South Dakota with 2,292 of its incarcerated population (604.11 per 1,000) having tested positive for COVID. 

Importantly, states have varying testing strategies within prisons and for their general population, indicating that these rates likely reflect a falsely low disease incidence with some states’ rates being more accurate than others.



COVID Case Watch December 2, 2020

This graph shows confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 per 1,000 individuals in the prison and general populations in each state as of December 2, 2020. The left side (orange) refers to the prison population and the right side (blue) refers to the general population. 

The rate of COVID in the general population is 41.60 per 1,000 individuals. In the prison population, the rate is 158.50 per 1,000 individuals. This means that, on average, the rate of COVID infections in prison populations remains almost four times the rate of COVID infections in the general population. Hawaii has a prison infection rate that is over 10 times that of the general population. 

Despite the recent surge of COVID cases in the general population in the last two months, in 47 of the 50 US states, the rate of COVID infections among those imprisoned still exceeds the rate of COVID infections among the general population. In the last two weeks, case rates have continued to increase drastically in prisons in multiple states. The largest increase in prison population cases this past two weeks has occurred in Alaska. Two weeks ago, 399 of the state’s 3,985 incarcerated population had tested positive. By this week, 771 had tested positive. Case rates in prisons have also increased drastically in Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Michigan, Missouri, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin. The highest case rate in the state prison systems remains in South Dakota with 2,161 of its incarcerated population (569.58 per 1,000) having tested positive for COVID. 

Importantly, states have varying testing strategies within prisons and for their general population, indicating that these rates likely reflect a falsely low disease incidence with some states’ rates being more accurate than others.

MO: Changes in data reporting

On November 9th, Missouri stopped reporting deaths of incarcerated people and staff and the number of incarcerated people tested for COVID-19. On November 24th, CPP began reporting these variables as not reported (“NR”). On November 25th, Missouri resumed reporting of deaths but did not resume reporting the number of people tested. CPP reached out to Missouri’s DOC to understand why there was a change in data reporting and have not yet received a response.

COVID Case Watch November 19, 2020

This graph shows confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 per 1,000 individuals in the prison and general populations in each state as of November 19, 2020. The left side (orange) refers to the prison population and the right side (blue) refers to the general population. 

The rate of COVID in the general population is 34.51 per 1,000 individuals. In the prison population, the rate is 138.97 per 1,000 individuals. This means that, on average, the rate of COVID infections in prison populations remains over four times the rate of COVID infections in the general population. Arkansas, Hawaii, Kansas, and Maine have a prison infection rate that is over 10 times that of the general population. 

Despite the recent surge of COVID cases in the general population this month, in 47 of the 50 US states, the rate of COVID infections among those imprisoned exceeds the rate of COVID infections among the general population. In the last week, case rates have continued to increase drastically in prisons in multiple states. The largest increase in both the general and prison population cases this past week has occurred in North Dakota, emphasizing that COVID spreads quickly from communities to prisons. Last week, 190 of the state’s 1,461 incarcerated population had tested positive. By this week, 420 had tested positive. Case rates in prisons have also increased drastically in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The highest case rate in the state prison systems remains in South Dakota with 2,081 of its incarcerated population (548.50 per 1,000) having tested positive for COVID. 

Importantly, states have varying testing strategies within prisons and for their general population, indicating that these rates likely reflect a falsely low disease incidence with some states’ rates being more accurate than others.

CO: Changes in data reporting; count decrease

Colorado began reporting cumulative inmate positives and inmates tested under different variable names. With these changes, there was a significant decrease in the reported number of incarcerated people tested for COVID-19. CPP was told by a DOC representative that this decrease was due to changes in data reporting and that these values will likely continue to fluctuate until data has been merged to their new system.

COVID Case Watch November 12, 2020

This graph shows confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 per 1,000 individuals in the prison and general populations in each state as of November 12, 2020. The left side (orange) refers to the prison population and the right side (blue) refers to the general population. 

The rate of COVID in the general population is 31.60 per 1,000 individuals. In the prison population, the rate is 127.93 per 1,000 individuals. This means that, on average, the rate of COVID infections in prison populations is over four times the rate of COVID infections in the general population. Arkansas and Kansas continue to have a prison infection rate that is over 10 times that of the general population. 

Despite a surge of COVID cases in the general population this month, in 46 of the 50 US states, the rate of COVID infections among those imprisoned still exceeds the rate of COVID infections among the general population. In the last week, case rates have continued to increase drastically in prisons in multiple states. Case rates in prisons have increased most in Iowa, New Mexico, Utah, and Wisconsin. Iowa has seen the largest increase in case rates in the last week. The highest case rate in the state prison systems remains in South Dakota with 2,009 of its incarcerated population (529.52 per 1,000) having tested positive for COVID. 

Importantly, states have varying testing strategies within prisons and for their general population, indicating that these rates likely reflect a falsely low disease incidence with some states’ rates being more accurate than others.

COVID Case Watch November 5, 2020

This graph shows confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 per 1,000 individuals in the prison and general populations in each state as of November 5, 2020. The left side (orange) refers to the prison population and the right side (blue) refers to the general population. 

The rate of COVID in the general population is 28.84 per 1,000 individuals. In the prison population, the rate is 119.7 per 1,000 individuals. This means that, on average, the rate of COVID infections in prison populations is 4.15 times the rate of COVID infections in the general population. Arkansas, Kansas, and Vermont continue to have a prison infection rate that is over 10 times that of the general population. 

Despite a surge of COVID cases in the general population this month, in 46 of the 50 US states, the rate of COVID infections among those imprisoned exceeds the rate of COVID infections among the general population. In the last week, case rates have continued to increase drastically in prisons in the Midwest, specifically in Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. The highest case rate in the state prison systems is now in South Dakota with 1,801 of its incarcerated population (474.70 per 1,000) having tested positive for COVID. There has also been a recent large increase in case rates in prisons in Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, and Utah. 

Importantly, states have varying testing strategies within prisons and for their general population, indicating that these rates likely reflect a falsely low disease incidence with some states’ rates being more accurate than others.