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ACLU Warns Spread of Coronavirus in Jails Could Add 100,000 Deaths to U.S. Toll

HeadlineApr 23, 2020

The known death toll from the coronavirus pandemic has topped 184,000, with the United States continuing to lead the world in confirmed cases and fatalities. According to Johns Hopkins researchers, 46,785 U.S. residents have died of COVID-19; more than 10,000 of the deaths have occurred at nursing homes and other long-term care centers.

In New York, where the death toll from COVID-19 has passed 15,000, six prisoners have died in state prisons — four of them at the notorious Sing Sing prison north of New York City.

In Chicago, six prisoners and one guard have died of COVID-19 at the Cook County Jail, where hundreds are sick.

In Ohio, a federal judge has ordered the release or transfer of hundreds of elderly or vulnerable prisoners held at the Elkton prison, where six people have died of COVID-19.

This comes as the American Civil Liberties warns U.S. models for the spread of coronavirus may be underestimating future deaths by nearly 100,000 unless counties take immediate steps to reduce jail populations. And the ACLU notes those figures don’t even account for state and federal prisons and immigration detention centers. The ACLU warns, “Unequivocally, keeping people out of jail saves lives — both inside the jail and in the surrounding community. Lives are at stake. The time to act is now.”

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