COVID-19 Case Watch: Preliminary Data from Jails

In counties with some of the largest jails, the COVID-19 infection rate in jails is between 3.5 and 73.1 times higher than the overall county infection rate. Cook County Jail has the highest infection rate; however, Bexar County has the largest disparity between the jail and the county overall. The infection rate in Bexar County Jail is 7.24%, which is 73.1 times higher than the 0.10% infection rate for Bexar County overall. Similar to prisons, infection rates in jails are dependent on testing. For example, Harris County Jail in Houston, TX has engaged in widespread testing.

Methods: While we are not systematically tracking COVID-19 cases in jails yet, we conducted this preliminary analysis. The raw data are provided in Table 1. The Vera Institute of Justice has been monitoring jail populations during COVID-19. We used their daily population counts for the denominator. The numerator data come from either government sources or media sources. The links for each report are provided in the table. The community infection rates are from The New York Times (data from May 11, 2020 8:10am ET).