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Ten Urgent Priorities Based on Lessons Learned From More Than a Half Million Known COVID-19 Cases in US Prisons.

  • Author(s): Barnert, Elizabeth;
  • Kwan, Ada;
  • Williams, Brie
  • et al.
Abstract

COVID-19 is ravaging US prisons. Prison residents and staff must be prioritized for vaccination, but a rapidly mutating virus and high rates of continued spread require an urgent, coordinated public health response.Based on knowledge accumulated from the pandemic thus far, we have identified 10 pressing public health priorities for responding to COVID-19 in prisons: (1) accelerate population reduction coupled with community reentry support, (2) improve prison ventilation systems, (3) ensure appropriate mask use, (4) limit transfers between facilities, (5) strengthen partnerships between public health departments and prison leadership, (6) introduce or maintain effective occupational health programs, (7) ensure access to advance care planning processes for incarcerated patients and delineation of patient health care rights, (8) strengthen partnerships between prison leadership and incarcerated people, (9) provide emergency mental health support for prison residents and staff, and (10) commit to public accountability and transparency.Dedicated prison leaders cannot accomplish these public health priorities alone. We must mobilize prison leaders, staff, and residents; public health departments; community advocates; and policymakers to work together to address the pandemic's outsized impact in US prisons.

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