COVID-19 Risk Factors on Jail


The correctional environment is always considered as unique or isolated from the wider society as well as a health system, nevertheless, the health of the correctional employees and the prisoners is inevitably connected to the health of the nation as a whole. In the United States, more than 3 million people are incarcerated or are working in the state and the federal prisons, local jails, and other detention facilities. The safety of the workers and the inmates is naturally a matter of public health. The researchers have highlighted some of the natural risks in the correctional systems that are likely to elevate the transmission of COVID-19 among the prisoners and the staffs. The workers in the jail and the prisoners have not been given special considerations by the society, the national leaders, and the lawmakers. The COVID-19 has exposed the neglect of the population living and working in the within the prison system. The population in the jail are a vulnerable population and they are highly likely to pay the highest price in the COVID-19 epidemic as a result of the risk factors. The inmates and the workers in the prisons are highly exposed to COVID-19 due to the poor health experience and limited to access to healthcare services, higher number of incarcerated individuals, racial and ethnic disparity, restriction to having access to the common hygiene products, and shortages of healthcare professionals (Rubin, 2020).

The general members of the public who are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms such as coughs, fever, breathing difficulty, and tiredness are being advised to speak as well as speak to their healthcare providers and getting tested for the disease. Nevertheless, the jails are experiencing high cases of shortages in healthcare providers and this is a problem that dates back in the history of the nation. The lack of adequate healthcare providers means that the inmates are being denied access to sufficient healthcare for chronic conditions and illnesses. The jails are experiencing a lack of access to medical care for the testing and the treatment of COVID-19 symptoms and the impacts of seeking medication. Reports are showing that one of the prisoners was not provided with healthcare services and this led to his death. In New York, the prisoners stated that the correctional officers failed to take the symptomatic inmates to the healthcare facility for the treatment (Stephenson, 2020).

According to the report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), individuals diagnosed with asthma, diabetes, hypertension and the elderly individuals with chronic health conditions are highly exposed to the complications of COVID-19. The prisoners are experiencing poor health and limited access to healthcare before being taken to jail. Once they are in jail, they age prematurely as a result of the health problems they are being exposed to. The suffering or the new life in jail causes psychological distress and this increases the manifestation of the mental diseases. As a result, half of the inmates suffer from chronic medical or mental health illness and this makes them have a higher risk of developing serious complications due to COVID-19 infections (Rubin, 2020).

The prison is highly populated and this makes it hard for the adherence to the social distance protocol impossible. Social distancing requires individuals to stay not less than 6 feet from other individuals, not to gather in groups, and to stay out of the crowded places. The protocol of social distancing is impracticable for the population in jail, individuals residing in the prisons, the workers, during sleep, and, bathing, and when eating. The jails are overcrowded and there is a continuous movement in and out of both inmates and staffs. This daily routine is creating a thriving environment for the spread of infectious diseases such as COVID-19. This, therefore, implies that the reporting on the number of the prisoners tested for positive COVID-19 will continue to rise thus complicating the effort being made to fight against the disease to promote healthy and free COVID-19 society (Rubin, 2020).

The jails are not operating like homes or other workplaces where people can have access to the common hygienic products such as alcohol-based sanitizers. Several correctional facilities are blocking or restricting access to common hygienic products. This implies that it is always hard for inmates to have access to products such as alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Even though there might be the availability of water to be used by this population, it is always not a guarantee that the inmates will be provided with access to the soap and dry their hands at the same time. It is also becoming hard to ensure that the surfaces in the cells, bathroom, and the cafeteria are disinfected to prevent exposure to the COVID-19. The limited access to the essential products such as alcohol and soaps makes it hard for the prisoners to observe the hygienic practices which are an important step towards the fight against COVID-19 (Mantoya-Bathelemy et al., 2020).

Racial and Ethnic Disparity

The racial and ethnic disparities have been recognized throughout the cancer control continuum, in cardiovascular illnesses, diabetes, and the multitude of other illnesses. The cause of disparity when it comes to the healthcare acquisition is complex, condition-specific, and conjectured to occur from the biological and the socio-behavioral factors. The healthcare disparity within various jails in the United States is a concern for the inmates, the governing organizations, and the non-incarcerated communities where these prisoners are supposed to return. The process of identifying the risks of several diseases form the COVID-19 is important for the modeling illness, designing of the work to return criteria, allocation of the economic help, advancement of the healthcare equity, and reducing the incidence of morbidity and mortality (Stephenson, 2020).

At present, there is limited analysis or research work concerning the population at risk based on income, and the racial or ethnic factors. The preliminary nationwide data is suggesting that the disparities in the hospitalization are already in development. Majority of the population in the United States are already experiencing disparity when it comes to access to the medical services. The non-Hispanic Black Americans and the American Indians are extremely highly exposed to severe illness such as COVID-19 compared to the non-Hispanic White Americans (Lofgren et al., 2020).

The COVID-19 is considered to be the most recent example when it comes to the historical aspects of the structural inequalities that shape the burden of the disease in the United States. The decades of the inequitable policies have resulted in the creation of the conditions whereby there is the existence of disparities by race and income when it comes to accessing healthcare, wealth, education, and jobs and each of these aspects is linked to the chronic diseases that increase the risks to severe diseases as a result of the COVID-19 (Williams, et al., 2020).


Lofgren, E., Lum, K., Horowitz, A., Madubuowu, B., & Fefferman, N. (2020). The Epidemiological Implications of Incarceration Dynamics in Jails for Community, Corrections Officer, and Incarcerated Population Risks from COVID-19. medRxiv. Mantoya-Bathelemy, A., Lee, C., Cundiff, D., & Smith, E. (2020). COVID-19 and the correctional environment: the American prison as a focal point for public health. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Rubin, R. (2020). The challenge of preventing COVID-19 spread in correctional facilities. Jama, 323(18), 1760-1761. Stephenson, J. (2020). COVID-19 pandemic poses a challenge for jails and prisons. In JAMA Health Forum, 1(4), e200422-e200422. Williams, B., Ahalt, C., Cloud, D., Augustine, D., Rorvig, L., & Sears, D. (2020). Correctional facilities in the shadow of COVID-19: unique challenges and proposed solutions. Health Aff, 10.

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