Efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 have tested our abilities to stay safe in schools, at work, at the grocery store and so many other places that shape our everyday lives. But what can we do about the virus spreading in places in our society that are designed to be cramped, crowded, isolated and punitive?
Michigan prisons have seen terrible outbreaks of coronavirus cases over the past several months. Outlier Media’s Joey Horan says that the Michigan Department of Corrections is not doing enough to protect inmates, staff and the communities they might touch outside.
Listen: Dark, cramped and alone. A look at life behind bars amid the Coronavirus pandemic.
Joey Horan is a reporter with Outlier Media who has been covering prisons amid the pandemic. According to Horan, “people are intentionally packed in like sardines,” which makes controlling spread of this virus inside prisons especially challenging. He explains that it’s crucial to contain and address the spread of the virus in prisons because if we don’t, Michigan’s incarcerated could serve as “reservoirs” of the virus. Meaning that, even if the virus is contained within communities, prisons are not so separated from those communities that they won’t fuel spread when outbreaks happen inside.
As far as securing proper protocols for prison staffers, Horan says it’s too little too late and equates it to “installing a fire alarm in your home after it’s already engulfed in flames.” Horan’s reporting indicates that 40% of people incarcerated in Michigan prisons have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. “It is a very big challenge. When we look at the numbers, (the Michigan Department of Corrections) is failing,” says Horan.
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