MASS. PRISONS AND JAILS AMONG HARDEST HIT BY CORONAVIRUS IN U.S.
April 28, 2020
By Beth Healy, Deborah Becker, and Christine Wilmsen
Five Massachusetts correctional institutions appear to be among the hardest hit by coronavirus infections among inmates and staff thus far at the roughly 4,900 jails and prisons in the United States.
Those include the Shirley, Framingham and Bridgewater state prisons, as well as the Essex and Middlesex county jails, according to data compiled by WBUR from local, state and federal government websites and media reports.
This is a snapshot in time amid a fast-moving pandemic, as the number of infected inmates, corrections officers and medical staff jumps by the day. As of Tuesday, WBUR found the coronavirus has infected nearly 15,000 inmates and corrections workers nationally and has killed more than 130.
“We’re really just at the early stages of seeing how bad it is behind bars,” said Dr. Homer Venters, a former chief medical officer for the New York City jail system.
This is almost certainly an undercount, as the reporting of infections and deaths from COVID-19 has been scattershot across the country. And while some jails and prisons have taken to broad testing of their populations, others are doing no testing at all.