COVID-19 burned through America’s correctional and detention facilities over the past year. According to The New York Times, 1 in 3 inmates in state facilities have contracted the disease, as have at least 39% of federal prisoners. Combined with the fact that COVID-19-related death rates are 34% higher among inmates than in the general population, these numbers illustrate the dire nature of this ongoing crisis.
In humanitarian terms, this is simply unacceptable. Neither inmates nor the over 400,000 correctional officers staffing detention facilities nationwide should be expected to risk exposure to a deadly disease day in, day out without adequate safeguards in place. What’s more, for private entities, it’s bad business. Failure to detect and contain outbreaks early can necessitate more drastic and costly action in order to safeguard inmates and staff, and has the potential to elicit regulatory interventions that may jeopardize private corrections companies’ ability to do business at all.
That being the case, prisons across the United States have begun investing heavily in COVID-19 detection and preparedness, but the challenges these organizations face remain immense. Many groups disproportionately affected by COVID-19 complications are heavily represented in inmate and detainee populations, with lack of adequate prior healthcare leading to an increased rate of dangerous preexisting conditions being just one example. Additionally, while nursing homes and most congregate living facilities were prioritized by the CDC for vaccine rollout, prisons were conspicuously absent from that list, meaning current inmates are largely unprotected.
The nature of prisons themselves is also a contributing factor. Overcrowding demands that large numbers of people live in extremely close proximity to one another, with the majority of that time being spent indoors. Together, these factors suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic will be a major concern for prisons long after much of the country has settled into a more stable “new normal.”
In short, all of this demands comprehensive and extremely frequent testing paired with extensive health and safety protocols similar to those found in hospitals and assisted living facilities. These steps are necessary, but they’re also expensive and logistically demanding.
Wellstand is the leader in partnering with congregate living facilities, including the corrections industry, to ensure every individual’s ongoing safety. Here’s how we help:
- Testing and prevention overhaul. Whether it’s setting up a new testing program, finding efficiencies in an existing testing program, or helping manage the long-tail logistics of COVID-19 safety best practices, our team has the experience and expertise necessary to tackle any challenge
- Adaptable programs. As circumstances evolve, so do our responses, such as providing facilities the ability to transition into an ongoing wastewater sampling strategy in order to stay ahead of potential COVID-19 outbreaks non-invasively.
- Expert guidance and cost savings. Making integrated COVID-19 testing affordable is a pillar of our commitment to promoting health and safety, but that’s not all we do. Significant public funding is available for pandemic response initiatives, and our team will work with you every step of the way toward unlocking those funds.
For the corrections industry, the fight against COVID-19 is shaping up to be a long one, but it’s winnable with Wellstand at your side. From initial response to ongoing programs -- and yes, even building a war chest -- we have the tools to make any facility into an unquestioned leader in COVID-19 response.
Ready to learn more? Contact us.