COVID-19 Killed More Incarcerated People Than The Numbers Officials Initially Reported

Empty blood tube with Positive Coronavirus label
Zain Murdock
July 21, 2021

Amidst talk of new variants and unvaccinated populations, there’s more bad news: reports of COVID-19 deaths in prisons may have been a MAJOR undercount. 

While it was previously believed around 600,000 people in prisons – 39% of them! – have had the virus, and nearly 3,000 have died, there’s been one crucial factor missing from the numbers.

According to the New York Times, a percentage of incarcerated people were technically hospitalized outside prison before they died – so they were not counted. 

“[Prisons] … say that they’ve had no Covid-19 deaths ... because they sent him to the hospital to die,” Chris Williamson noted, whose father unfortunately fit that description.

But, even if officials are surprised by the undercount, there’s no surprise at the unsafe prison conditions that led to those deaths. 

Besides being forced to live in close quarters and not having access to medication, a lot of incarcerated people who got sick weren’t even given COVID tests!

When Black people make up over 38% of people imprisoned, and make up as many as 72% in states like Maryland, medical neglect in prisons is certainly a Black issue.

The COVID-19 pandemic still isn't over. To prevent more deaths, we need to know how big of a problem the virus in prisons is. This is a direct example of dishonesty within the system putting Black lives at risk.

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