COCHS Weekly Update: July 07, 2020


COCHS Profiles: Ohio's Medicaid Reentry Program
The Reentry Act can help state and local governments develop stronger approaches to treatment for substance use disorder and mental health. To illustrate the potential of strengthening Medicaid’s role at reentry, COCHS profiles Ohio’s Medicaid reentry program. Ohio has been a national leader in connecting people leaving incarceration to health care services. A 2018 evaluation of its program found high rates of connection to behavioral and physical health services, and program participants reported that the program made it less likely that they would return to prison or jail.

Partner Announcement

Association of Clinicians for the Underserved: Webinar Registration - Delivering Health Care for Incarcerated Persons During a Pandemic
This webinar explores how COVID-19 has put a spotlight on vulnerable populations, including those in prisons and jails. The ability of a jail or prison system to prepare, respond or mitigate varies, and depends in part on the roles or contribution of the community health networks. Various systems struggle with lack of leadership, collaboration, funding and other resources.

Racial and Sexual Minority Disparities

The New York Times: The Fullest Look Yet at the Racial Inequity of Coronavirus
Racial disparities in who contracts the virus have played out in big cities like Milwaukee and New York, but also in smaller metropolitan areas like Grand Rapids, Mich., where the Bradleys live. Those inequities became painfully apparent when Ms. Bradley, who is Black, was wheeled through the emergency room. “Everybody in there was African-American,” she said. “Everybody was.”

Health Affairs: Moving From The Five Whys To Five Hows: Addressing Racial Inequities In COVID-19 Infection And Death
In recent months, states and municipalities have begun releasing data on COVID-19 infections and death that reveal profound racial disparities. In Louisiana, Black patients account for 57 percent of COVID-19 deaths, while making up only 33 percent of the total population. In Wisconsin, Hispanic patients constitute 12 percent of confirmed COVID-19 cases, but only 7 percent of the total population. In New York City, the epicenter of the pandemic in the US, age-adjusted mortality rates are more than double for Black and Hispanic patients (243.6 and 237.7 per 100,000) compared to white and Asian patients (121.5 and 109.4 per 100,000).

Rutgers University: How Prison and Police Discrimination Affect Black Sexual Minority Men’s Health
Incarceration and police discrimination may contribute to HIV, depression and anxiety among Black gay, bisexual and other sexual minority men, according to a Rutgers led study. The study, funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and published in the journal Social Science & Medicine, examined associations between incarceration, police and law enforcement discrimination and recent arrest with Black sexual minority mens’ psychological distress, risk for HIV and willingness to take pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention.

Time: 17 Corrections Officers Disciplined 1 Year After Transgender Woman's Death on Rikers Island
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Friday that 17 corrections officers would be disciplined following the 2019 death of a transgender woman who died from an epileptic seizure while in solitary confinement on Rikers Island. Layleen Polanco, a Dominican-American who lived with epilepsy and schizophrenia, was incarcerated because she was unable to pay $500 bail after being arrested on misdemeanor charges. She was 27 when she died on June 7, 2019.

COVID-19 Correctional Healthcare Vendors

Dayton Daily News: Public health wants everyone at jail tested. But officials resist.
Dayton & Montgomery County wanted everyone at the jail tested for the coronavirus, but the facility’s health care provider, NaphCare, opposed the move, saying it would not provide very useful information. As cases grew, Public Health said it wanted everyone at the facility tested for the coronavirus. But Dr. Jeffrey Alvarez, the corporate medical director for NaphCare, believed that testing everyone at the jail facility was a waste of resources and labor.

Nashville Post: CoreCivic reports $25M in profits as COVID infects 2,500+ inmates
Two workers at a CoreCivic facility in California claimed in a lawsuit that the company didn’t provide staff with proper protective equipment and that their job duties made it difficult to avoid contact with other people. Nearly 150 CoreCivic employees had been infected by early May, and several have died. In April, frontline employees received a bonus for working under high-risk conditions and additional sick leave to allow staff to stay home when feeling ill. Detainees at two ICE facilities in Arizona operated by CoreCivic asked a court to release them because they feared getting sick. A judge concluded in May that ICE was not taking reasonable measures at the CoreCivic facilities to protect the detainees, ordering the agency to release one detainee and improve conditions for the others.

News 4 Jax: Doctor who exposed inmates, staff to COVID-19 failed to follow proper protocol
Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said he faults one jailhouse doctor, who failed to follow protocol, with spreading the novel coronavirus inside the largest detention facility in Jacksonville. In a matter of days, the number of inmates testing positive for the virus has jumped from two to 20 to 178 at its peak over the weekend, records show. That’s not including the 19 jail staffers who tested positive, too. All of the cases are at the Pre-Trial Detention Facility, according to Williams. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said the positive test was a result of inmates and employees being exposed to a doctor, with Armor Correction Health Services, who tested positive for COVID-19.

COVID-19 Spike in Transmission

NBC 5 St Louis Missouri: Prison outbreak leads to virus surge in St. Francois County
An eastern Missouri county has seen a big increase in confirmed coronavirus cases, and most of those infected are prison inmates. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services on Friday reported 547 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, another big jump in cases statewide. The health department has reported nearly 3,800 new cases over the past nine days. Missouri reopened its economy in mid-June.

Indiana Gazette: How COVID-19 in jails and prisons threatens nearby communities
Two new studies show that jails can contribute enormously to coronavirus case totals outside their walls. While COVID-19’s spread inside the facilities has been widely reported, the research demonstrates just how great an impact it can have in communities outside. Depending on the social distancing measures put in place, community spread from infections in jails could add between 99,000 and 188,000 people to the virus’s U.S. death toll, according to a modeling study recently published by the American Civil Liberties Union.

WRDE: Testing, Contact Tracing Finds New Cluster of COVID-19 Cases at SCI Georgetown
Delaware's Department of Correction (DOC) announced Friday it was tracking a new cluster of cases at the Sussex Correctional Institution (SCI) in Georgetown, DE. After six weeks with no inmates testing positive for COVID-19 in any of the state's correctional facilities, Friday's announcement marks the first sign of the disease at SCI since the pandemic started in early March. After three inmates at SCI this week showed symptoms of COVID-19 infection and tested positive, the DOC immediately initiated contact tracing to identify, isolate and proactively test individuals who came into sustained contact with these inmates.

Dayton Daily News: More than 30 test positive for COVID at local jail. Citizens demand action
A group of community members are calling on officials with public health, the jail, law enforcement and judges to take action to stop what they say is a rapidly growing COVID-19 outbreak at the Montgomery County Jail, Ohio About 26 inmates and five corrections staff members have tested positive for the illness since March, according to the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, and coalition members say mass testing and reducing the jail population is the only way to stop the spread of infection.

FOX 17 Nashville: 183 inmates, 4 staffers at Davidson Co. correctional facility test positive for COVID-19
A large number of Davidson County inmates have tested positive for COVID-19. A total of 183 inmates and four staffers have tested positive at the Correctional Development Center-Male (CDM) on Harding Place, according to a DCSO press release. On Tuesday, 48 inmates at the facility tested positive for COVID-19. The Metro Public Health Department notified the DCSO that it would then test an additional 502 inmates and 164 staffers.

Your Central Valley: Fresno County correctional officers concerned for their health as outbreak worsens at the jail
The coronavirus outbreak at the Fresno County Jail is on the rise. On Monday, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office confirmed 507 inmates and 25 correctional officers along with one sheriff’s deputy who works in the court-tested positive for COVID-19. The outbreak was first discovered when 13 inmates tested positive upon their arrival to Wasco State Prison. Since June 19th, 1,200 inmates in the North Jail have been quarantined and tested. The 507 positive tests are about half the population of the North Jail and about 25% of the population of the entire jail facility.

California Healthline: California Prisons Are COVID Hotbeds Despite Billions Spent On Inmate Health
From Corcoran and Avenal state prisons in the Central Valley to San Quentin on the San Francisco Bay, California prisons have emerged as raging COVID-19 hot spots, even as the state annually spends more on inmate health care than other big states spend on their entire prison systems. California’s efforts to stem the outbreaks matter beyond the prison gates, several experts noted. Prison workers go home at the end of their shifts. Inmates too sick to be cared for in prison infirmaries are sent to community hospitals. Ultimately, prison health and public health are inextricably intertwined.

COVID-19 Transmission San Quentin California

NPR: COVID-19 Outbreak Devastates California's San Quentin Prison
More than one third of inmates at California's overcrowded San Quentin prison have tested positive for COVID-19, in what some are calling the state's biggest prison health catastrophe in history. In a matter of weeks, COVID-19 has raced through San Quentin Prison, California's oldest prison. Health officials call it the biggest prison health catastrophe in the state's history. With the coronavirus now ravaging San Quentin, the long-overcrowded facility is running out of space. Staff are setting up tents in a prison yard to treat COVID-19 patients.

The New York Times: San Quentin Prison Was Free of the Virus. One Decision Fueled an Outbreak
The coughing and complaints of sickness began as a procession of busloads of prisoners made its way late last month from a Southern California prison to San Quentin, California’s oldest and most widely known prison. The inmates were being moved to San Quentin as part of a plan to halt the spread of the coronavirus by reducing the number of inmates at the California Institution for Men in Chino, where nine inmates had died and nearly 700 had been infected. At the time, there were no inmates known to have had the virus at San Quentin.

Public Policy Institute of California: What Ohio’s COVID-19 Outbreaks Can Teach California Prisons
Early in the pandemic most of California’s prisons avoided widespread COVID-19 outbreaks, unlike two prisons in Ohio. The ongoing outbreak at San Quentin, however, highlights the threat the virus poses—and drawing on Ohio’s experience can help California avoid severe outbreaks in prisons throughout the state. California prisons share many similarities with those in Ohio. In both systems, at least one in five inmates is over 50 years old. Like many California prisons, Ohio’s prisons at Marion and Pickaway were more than 130% over capacity when COVID-19 struck. We know the extent of the outbreaks at Marion and Pickaway because Governor DeWine ordered mass testing in prisons with confirmed cases. Even though testing in San Quentin has accelerated during the outbreak, California prison inmates and staff are not tested regularly. Infected inmates were transferred to San Quentin from Chino—some without being tested for a month.

San Francisco Chronicle: San Quentin coronavirus outbreak: Death Row prisoner who was found dead tested positive
As of Monday evening, more than one out of every four people incarcerated at San Quentin were infected. Officials on Monday said there are 196 confirmed cases among San Quentin’s condemned population, amounting to about one in four of the 725 people on Death Row. San Quentin’s case count recently overtook Chino, and the prison now holds at least 500 more patients with active COVID-19 cases than any other facility in the state

Ottumwa Courrier: California officials blasted for prison coronavirus outbreak
California lawmakers harshly criticized state corrections officials' “failure of leadership” Wednesday, saying they botched their handling of the coronavirus pandemic by inadvertently transferring infected inmates to a virus-free prison, triggering the state’s worst prison outbreak. A third of the 3,500 inmates at San Quentin State Prison near San Francisco have tested positive since officials transferred 121 inmates from the heavily impacted California Institution for Men in Chino on May 30 without properly testing them for infections.

COVID-19 Voices of Incarcerated People and Their Families

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: 'It's terrifying': Families worry about inmates as some Wisconsin prison staff not required to wear masks even as COVID-19 on rise
When Melissa Graham had a video call with her husband Jason June 23, it was the first time she'd been able to see his face in over three months. But she was worried: None of the people sharing a room with him were wearing masks. Graham's husband is incarcerated at the Wisconsin Secure Program Facility where staff and inmates are not required to wear masks. He has asthma which puts him at higher risk for health complications with coronavirus. While other states have required all staff in their correctional facilities to wear masks, the Wisconsin Department of Corrections has required it at 26 of its 36 adult facilities.

COVID-19 and Mental Health

Police 1: Wash. health officer issues order to jail COVID-positive homeless man who refused to self-isolate
Spokane Regional Health District Health Officer Bob Lutz issued an order Thursday to isolate a COVID-19-positive man in Spokane County Jail after he refused orders to self-isolate. The jailed person was homeless, suffering from mental health problems related to alcohol and drug abuse, and refused all other isolation options, said Spokane Regional Health District spokesperson Kelli Hawkins. The order faces opposition from the Spokane County Board of Commissioners and jail Director Mike Sparber, who said they are “distressed about this forced action” in a news release announcing the decision.

COVID-19 Studies

Pew: How COVID-19 in Jails and Prisons Threatens Nearby Communities
While inmates mostly stay behind concrete walls and barbed wire, those barriers can’t contain an infectious disease like COVID-19. Not only can the virus be brought into jails and prisons, but it also can leave those facilities and spread widely into surrounding communities and beyond. The effect may be most pronounced in jails, which mainly house those who are awaiting trial or inmates serving short sentences. Those facilities tend to have more churn than state and federal penitentiaries, with greater numbers of people entering and leaving, thereby increasing opportunities for the disease to disseminate.

Drexel Now: Pandemic in PA’s Prisons Warns of a Looming Public Health Crisis
The spread of the virus in Pennsylvania’s correctional facilities is particularly likely and dangerous due to a confluence of systemic factors, which are documented in a recently released report, from legal scholars in the Andy and Gwen Stern Community Lawyering Clinic at Drexel University and the Amistad Law Project, titled Pandemic in PA’s Prisons. The report characterizes the state’s mitigation response for coronavirus in its correctional facilities as one that is indicative of a public safety crisis, when it’s actually a looming public health crisis.

Corrections 1: Data analyzes COVID-19 impact on jail populations
A study compiled from analyzing the real-time incarceration populations of more than 2,900 facilities nationwide, provide new insights into how COVID-19 could impact the U.S. jail population and the steps local governments are taking to mitigate potential outbreaks. One simple way to determine jails with the highest at-risk population is to look at the ages of incarcerated populations. Analysis showed the percentage of jail inmates over 55 can range from less than 6% to over 10%. Delaware and Florida and California have the highest concentration of jail inmates older than 55.

COVID-19 Lawsuits

FOX 24 WGXA: Georgia sheriff failed to protect inmates from coronavirus
A lawsuit accuses the jail administrators in Clayton County, Georgia (Atlanta) of failing to take reasonable steps to ensure effective social distancing and failing to provide sufficient sanitation or adequate protective equipment. They also haven’t adequately identified and responded to positive cases or provided inmates with information on how to avoid infection. People experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, often remain in overcrowded cells for days, the lawsuit says. When they are moved out, the cells aren’t cleaned before new inmates are moved in.

COVID-19 Correctional Facility Environment

Tampa Bay Times: DeSantis cuts money for prison updates, hepatitis C treatment
Florida's outdated infrastructure such as the lack of air conditioning have inmates fainting in the heat, and broken plumbing can mean days without a shower. Dry wash cloths get soaked from humidity in the dorms and in some places, 70 men share a water fountain, according to anecdotes from inmates’ family. Meanwhile, coronavirus continues to infect inmates across the state system, where at least 24 inmates have died and 2,073 have tested positive for COVID-19. Two line items in Florida’s $92 billion budget aimed at addressing such problems — $2 million to create a modernization master plan and $28 million for infectious disease drug treatment — got the ax this week when Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed $1 billion from the state budget he signed into law.