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Coronavirus cases have been reported among prisoners as of April 29

A State-by-State Look at Coronavirus in Prisons

The Marshall Project is collecting data on COVID-19 infections in state and federal prisons. See how the virus has affected correctional facilities where you live.

Coronavirus Updated 4:55 P.M. 05.22.2020

Since March, The Marshall Project has been tracking how many people are being sickened and killed by COVID-19 in prisons and how widely it has spread across the country and within each state. Here, we will regularly update these figures counting the number of people infected and killed nationwide and in each prison system until the crisis abates.

This reporting was undertaken in partnership with The Associated Press.

Cases

By May 20, at least 29,251 people in prison had tested positive for the illness, a 19 percent increase from the week before.

Much of the remarkable recent growth in coronavirus cases has been due to a handful of states—Ohio, Tennessee, Arkansas, Michigan, North Carolina among them—that began aggressively testing nearly everyone at prisons where people had become sick. This spate of testing would suggest that coronavirus had been circulating in prisons in much greater numbers than known, and that in the many states where tests have not been prevalent, far more people may have been carrying it than were initially reported.

There have been at least 29,251 cases of coronavirus reported among prisoners.

Each represents 10 new cases

State Total cases Per 100,000 prisoners New cases over time
Alabama 9 43
Alaska 2 40
Arizona 151 362
Arkansas 1,246 6,853
California 915 772
Colorado 486 2,791
Connecticut 684 5,598
Delaware 141 3,049
Florida 1,191 1,297
Georgia 415 758
Hawaii 0 0
Idaho 0 0
Illinois 204 553
Indiana 657 2,443
Iowa 23 274
Kansas 866 8,756
Kentucky 358 3,039
Louisiana 438 1,386
Maine 1 50
Maryland 102 543
Massachusetts 375 4,588
Michigan 3,262 8,656
Minnesota 116 1,343
Mississippi 20 107
Missouri 44 169
Montana 2 53
Nebraska 7 125
Nevada 1 8
New Hampshire 0 0
New Jersey 830 4,587
New Mexico 22 334
New York 471 1,101
North Carolina 644 1,906
North Dakota 10 804
Ohio 4,550 9,330
Oklahoma 2 8
Oregon 143 989
Pennsylvania 227 515
Rhode Island 9 393
South Carolina 65 366
South Dakota 2 54
Tennessee 2,649 12,525
Texas 2,214 1,580
Utah 10 163
Vermont 45 3,201
Virginia 902 3,158
Washington 34 201
West Virginia 2 39
Wisconsin 40 177
Wyoming 0 0
Federal 4,664 2,706
Source: State and federal prison agencies
Deaths

The first known COVID-19 death of a prisoner was in Georgia when Anthony Cheek died on March 26. Cheek, who was 49 years old, had been held in Lee State Prison near Albany, a hotspot for the disease. Since then, at least 414 other prisoners have died of coronavirus-related causes. By May 20, the total number of deaths had risen by 11 percent in a week.

There have been at least 415 deaths from coronavirus reported among prisoners.

Each represents one new death

State Total deaths Per 100,000 prisoners New deaths over time
Alabama 1 5
Alaska
Arizona 6 14
Arkansas 8 44
California 6 5
Colorado 2 11
Connecticut 6 49
Delaware 6 130
Florida 10 11
Georgia 15 27
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois 12 33
Indiana 17 63
Iowa
Kansas 4 40
Kentucky 2 17
Louisiana 11 35
Maine
Maryland 5 27
Massachusetts 8 98
Michigan 59 157
Minnesota
Mississippi 1 5
Missouri 1 4
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey 43 238
New Mexico
New York 16 37
North Carolina 5 15
North Dakota
Ohio 63 129
Oklahoma
Oregon 1 7
Pennsylvania 5 11
Rhode Island
South Carolina 2 11
South Dakota
Tennessee 4 19
Texas 32 23
Utah
Vermont
Virginia 5 18
Washington 0 0
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
Federal 59 34
Source: State and federal prison agencies
What's happening in your state

Given the huge differences in how many people are being tested in prisons for the virus, the effects of the pandemic have varied widely between different state prison systems. The first reported cases began popping up in Massachusetts and Georgia on March 20. By mid-May, some states like Idaho, New Hampshire and Wyoming still had not identified any confirmed cases of sick prisoners. Here, you can choose to view the data for any state prison system and see how the numbers compare. For a summary of the number of cases in facilities run by the federal Bureau of Prisons, choose the “Federal” option.

Each represents

Each represents one new death

Known cases per 100,000 prisoners
Current case data not available
Deaths per 100,000 prisoners
Current death data not available
Tests administered per 100,000 prisoners
Current testing data not available
Source: State and federal prison agencies, The COVID Tracking Project
Prison staff

While we know more about how prisoners are getting sick, another group of people is at risk in these facilities: correctional officers, nurses, chaplains, wardens and other workers. We know little about how coronavirus is affecting them, though they have the potential to carry it both into facilities and back out to their communities. It’s difficult to assess how prison workers are being affected because many aren’t being systematically tested.

In the most recent week, only sixteen states—Arkansas, Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, Wyoming—are releasing information on the number of their staff members tested for coronavirus. Where we do know about positive cases, most state corrections departments stress that the count includes only the employees who voluntarily report a diagnosis, often in the course of calling out sick.

While more than 7,400 prison staff members have tested positive, only 33 deaths have been publicly reported.

There have been at least 7,435 cases of coronavirus reported among prison staff.

Each represents 10 new cases

There have been at least 33 deaths from coronavirus reported among prison staff.

Each represents one new death

The staff members in your state

We know very little about how many staff are tested, and in many states it’s not clear how many people are working in prisons right now. What we do know is that in several states prison employees began to get sick before the people they oversee. Using this tool, you can view the data for any state’s prison system and see how the numbers compare. For a summary of the number of cases in facilities administered by the federal Bureau of Prisons, choose the “Federal” option.

Each represents

Each represents one new death

Known cases per 100,000 staff
Current case data not available
Deaths per 100,000 staff
Current death data not available
Tests administered per 100,000 staff
Current testing data not available
Source: State and federal prison agencies, The COVID Tracking Project

The Marshall Project will continue to track and publish data on coronavirus in our prison systems. If you have updates to the data to share or other comments, please contact us at info+covidtracker@themarshallproject.org.

We are publishing the raw data we have collected at data.world, in partnership with the Associated Press, and on Github. You can download the data to examine for yourself or to use in your research. If you do use our data, please let us know.

Methodology

Since March 26, reporters from The Marshall Project have been collecting data on COVID-19 tests administered to people incarcerated in all state and federal prisons, as well as the staff in those facilities. We request this data every week from state departments of corrections and the federal Bureau of Prisons; however, not all departments provide data for the date requested. These numbers have been grouped by the week the data was collected.

To estimate the rate of infection among prisoners, we collected population data for each prison system before the pandemic, roughly in mid-March, and in mid-April. Most prison systems could provide data for the first two weeks of each month. In cases where current data was unavailable, we used the most recent available population numbers from the agencies in 11 states: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Indiana, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Nevada, Ohio. In one case, Montana, we used data collected by the Vera Institute for Justice in its “[People in Prison in 2019](https://www.vera.org/publications/people-in-prison-in-2019)” report.

To estimate the rate of infection among prison employees, we collected staffing numbers for each system before the pandemic, roughly in mid-March, and in mid-April. Where current data was not publicly available, we acquired other numbers through our reporting, including calling agencies or from state budget documents. In six states, we were unable to find recent staffing figures and thus did not calculate rates: Alaska, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maryland, Montana, Utah.

The overall U.S. rate of infection was calculated using case counts from The COVID Tracking Project and population data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

As with all COVID-19 data, our understanding of the spread and impact of the virus is limited by the availability of testing. Epidemiology and public health experts say that aside from a few states that have recently begun aggressively testing in prisons, it is likely that there are more cases of COVID-19 circulating undetected in facilities. Sixteen prison systems, including the Federal Bureau of Prisons, would not release information about how many prisoners they are testing.

Early weeks of data for Vermont included multiple tests of the same prisoner. Starting on May 13, the data now accurately reflect the number of individual prisoners tested in Vermont.

Reporting by Katie Park and Tom Meagher

Graphics by Gabe Isman and Katie Park

Additional reporting by Cary Aspinwall, Keri Blakinger, Jake Bleiber, Andrew R. Calderón, Maurice Chammah, Andrew DeMillo, Eli Hager, Jamiles Lartey, Claudia Lauer, Nicole Lewis, Weihua Li, Humera Lodhi, Colleen Long, Joseph Neff, Alysia Santo, Beth Schwartzapfel, Christie Thompson, Abbie VanSickle, Andrew Welsh-Huggins.