By Marko Marjanović | 27 April 2020
ANTI-EMPIRE — US prisons that “house” 2.
Reuters surveyed all 50 state prison systems. Of the 30 that responded, most are only testing inmates who show symptoms, suggesting they could be vastly undercounting the number infected by the coronavirus.
Florida and Texas, whose inmate populations are bigger than Ohio’s, report a combined total of just 931 cases — far fewer than the 3,837 inmates who tested positive in Ohio. New York, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, has reported 269 positive cases among 51,000 inmates. All three states are testing only symptomatic prisoners.
But turns out that is a function of testing only those few who show symptoms. In the four states where those without symptoms were tested as well the number of detected positives was 24 times higher than it would have been otherwise:
They started with the Marion Correctional Institution, which houses 2,500 prisoners in north central Ohio, many of them older with pre-existing health conditions. After testing 2,300 inmates for the coronavirus, they were shocked. Of the 2,028 who tested positive, close to 95% had no symptoms.
“It was very surprising,” said Chambers-Smith, who oversees the state’s 28 correctional facilities.
As mass coronavirus testing expands in prisons, large numbers of inmates are showing no symptoms. In four state prison systems — Arkansas, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia — 96% of 3,277 inmates who tested positive for the coronavirus were asymptomatic, according to interviews with officials and records reviewed by Reuters. That’s out of 4,693 tests that included results on symptoms.
When you’ve got a reasonably healthy, adult but not elderly male population a staggering 96% do not fall ill even with the mildest of symptoms. […]