February 7th, 2022
Omicron Behind Bars (1/31-2/4)
As we noted last week, the Omicron variant is causing enormous and in many locations unprecedented surges in COVID cases. Beginning this week, we will be publishing a weekly round-up of trends that we noted last week behind bars.
Each round-up is not comprehensive. Outbreaks are likely going undetected or occurring in facilities and systems that are not reporting data. Because of limited data transparency by carceral systems, we cannot know precisely what the situation is in those locations.
This, however, is what we found last week:
The state that reported the largest numerical increase in COVID cases among incarcerated people was California. There, the state added 3,865 new cases to its cumulative case count in just one week. As of Friday, there were 4,938 active COVID cases among people in California state prisons.
California also saw the highest total increase in new cases among prison staff, with 686 new reported cases by the end of the week. That includes 147 at CDCR/CCHCS Worksite - Sacramento Country, 89 at California Health Care Facility, 83 at California State Prison Corcoran, and 77 at Mule Creek State Prison.
Minnesota is home to three of the facilities with the highest case increases nationally among incarcerated people. There, Moose Lake Correctional Facility reported 255 new cases, more than it had seen throughout the entire pandemic, while Faribault Correctional Facility saw 493 new cases and Stillwater Correctional Facility reported 366 new cases. By the end of the week, Minnesota was reporting 1,485 active COVID cases across all its prisons.
Last week, New Jersey reported four COVID deaths of people incarcerated in its state prisons, the highest in any state. The facility that saw the most deaths was located in Alabama. There, the St. Clair Correctional Facility reported three new COVID deaths of incarcerated people in just one week. Whiteville Correctional facility in Tennessee and Phoenix Correctional Institution in Pennsylvania each reported two new COVID deaths of incarcerated people.
The states that saw the highest number of deaths among prison staff were Texas and Missouri. In each of those states, two prison staff members were reported to have died of COVID last week.
You can find all of our data on our GitHub.
In recent weeks, infection rates have been higher than ever among people in ICE detention. Earlier this month, the agency reported 3,158 active cases, or an infection rate of roughly 15 percent. With population levels rising -- nearly 50 percent higher than they were a year ago -- the solution is clear: decarceration.