Across the United States, the number of known infections among state prison inmates and correctional officers has surged by 45 percent since July 1, to more than 80,000, despite limited testing in correctional institutions, according to a New York Times database. Prison deaths related to the coronavirus have risen by nearly 25 percent in that time.
The 13 largest known clusters of the virus in the United States, and 87 of the top 100, can be found inside correctional institutions, according to a New York Times database.
“They have been checking our temps every day, and the staff are now wearing the white hazmat suits, gloves and masks,” Kayle Smith, an inmate at Wakulla Correctional Institution in Florida, wrote in an email Monday. The number of infected inmates at Wakulla has shot up to 263, from just 15 two weeks ago.
It is not just inmates and guards who have been affected.
The director of the Ohio state prison system, Annette Chambers-Smith, has tested positive for the virus, the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction announced Monday. Ms. Chambers-Smith has been confronted by one of the nation’s earliest and deadliest prison outbreaks, which has taken the lives of at least 80 inmates.
Public health officials believe the virus is introduced into prisons by correctional officers and other prison employees, and sometimes through inmate transfers from other facilities. Prison outbreaks often correspond with increases in infection in the surrounding communities, according to data collected by The Times.
A recent surge of infections at San Quentin State Prison in California, for instance, has occurred along with a sharp rise in surrounding Marin County, where daily infection counts have soared more than 800 percent since June. Nearly three-quarters of the prison’s 3,300 inmates have now tested positive; a month ago, the prison had no known infections.
Many of the recent outbreaks have occurred not in major state prisons but in jails in midsize cities, suburbs and rural towns. The Benton County Jail in Arkansas has gone from one case to 229 in recent weeks; the Comanche County Jail in Oklahoma from zero to 179; and the jails in Fresno, Calif., from a handful of cases to more than 640. Elsewhere in the United States:
The mayor of Honolulu asked Hawaii’s governor on Tuesday to shut down bars on the island of Oahu for three weeks so that health officials and liquor control officers could develop a stronger enforcement plans to slow the spread of the virus. Kirk Caldwell, the city and county mayor, said he was concerned about bars becoming sources of the virus’ spread after a number of patrons and employees were infected.
With virus cases rising steeply in southeastern Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam announced a rollback of the reopening there. The region includes Virginia Beach, the naval bases around Norfolk and Hampton Roads, and tourist attractions like Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens. The governor’s order, effective at midnight Thursday, prohibits the sale and consumption of alcohol after 10 p.m., and requires restaurants to close by midnight. It also limits indoor dining to 50 percent of capacity and social gatherings to 50 people, down from 250.
In Montana, officials announced four deaths on Tuesday. The sparsely populated state, where daily case reports have risen recently to an average of about 100, had not previously reported more than three deaths from the virus in a single day. Officials in Arkansas announced 20 new deaths on Tuesday and Oregon announced more than 15 new deaths, both single-day records for those states.
Child care providers in Ohio will be allowed to return to full capacity starting Aug. 9, Gov. Mike DeWine said on Tuesday, though they would forego a state subsidy if they do. Providers who choose to stay at reduced capacity would receive the subsidy, he said. Either way, child care centers would have to keep on performing temperature and symptom checks and comply with other health requirements.
The Trump administration on Tuesday said it would extend a $765 million loan to the Eastman Kodak Company to make critical pharmaceutical components, in an effort to reduce American dependence on foreign countries for essential medicines. The arrangement leverages the Defense Production Act, a Korean War-era law that gives the government vast powers and resources to direct certain kinds of production in the interest of national security.
Ten residents at a state-run veterans home in Oklahoma died after becoming infected in an outbreak, the executive director of the state’s Department of Veterans Affairs said Tuesday. Since July 1, 52 residents and 21 employees at the Claremore Veterans Center outside Tulsa have tested positive, according to the state, which reported that 36 residents were hospitalized. The outbreak was most likely caused by an asymptomatic employee who unknowingly spread the virus, officials said.
Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington announced Tuesday that he was extending indefinitely a statewide pause to counties in various stages of reopening, according to The Associated Press. It’s the second time this month that he has extended the pause, and it comes days after Mr. Inslee tightened restrictions on indoor activities.
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