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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 4:50 P.M. 02.19.2021

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 Feb. 16, at least 381,462 people in prison had tested positive for the illness, a 1 percent increase from the week before.

New infections in prisons have dropped in recent weeks from their highest peaks in mid-December to numbers not seen since October.

Reported cases first peaked in late April, when states such as Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee began mass testing of prisoners. Those initiatives suggested that coronavirus had been circulating among people without symptoms in much greater numbers than previously known.

There have been at least 381,462 cases of coronavirus reported among prisoners.

309,829 prisoners have recovered.

State Total cases Per 10,000 prisoners New cases over time
Alabama 1,499 710
Alaska * 2,302 4,820
Arizona 11,860 2,800
Arkansas 11,032 6,303
California 48,837 4,151
Colorado 8,549 4,862
Connecticut * 3,932 3,199
Delaware * 1,899 3,766
Florida 17,864 1,905
Georgia 3,469 631
Hawaii * 1,894 3,916
Idaho 4,071 5,209
Illinois 10,532 2,852
Indiana 3,424 1,271
Iowa 4,560 5,344
Kansas 6,027 6,147
Kentucky 6,907 5,679
Louisiana 3,100 2,058
Maine 157 734
Maryland 4,067 2,002
Massachusetts 2,992 3,755
Michigan 25,039 6,559
Minnesota 3,883 4,361
Mississippi 1,392 788
Missouri 5,452 2,118
Montana 1,129 2,504
Nebraska 959 1,706
Nevada 4,698 3,794
New Hampshire 447 1,837
New Jersey 4,345 2,356
New Mexico 2,581 3,918
New York 5,686 1,329
North Carolina 9,455 2,760
North Dakota 622 4,095
Ohio 9,433 1,928
Oklahoma 7,092 2,842
Oregon 3,516 2,432
Pennsylvania 9,520 2,045
Rhode Island * 1,132 4,233
South Carolina 3,049 1,683
South Dakota 2,337 6,315
Tennessee 6,575 3,042
Texas 33,882 2,418
Utah 3,261 4,726
Vermont * 265 1,600
Virginia 8,977 3,078
Washington 6,116 3,543
West Virginia 1,553 2,609
Wisconsin 10,831 4,591
Wyoming 742 3,324
Federal 48,519 2,819
* An asterisk denotes state counts that include both pre-trial detainees and sentenced prisoners under a unified system of jails and prisons.

Source: The Marshall Project and Associated Press weekly data collection from state and federal prison agencies. Download our data.
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 2,416 other prisoners have died of coronavirus-related causes. The week of Feb. 16 the number of deaths reported rose 1 percent in a week. The coronavirus has killed prisoners in most systems. One state—Vermont—has yet to report the death of a prisoner attributed to COVID-19.

There have been at least 2,419 deaths from coronavirus reported among prisoners.

State Total deaths Per 10,000 prisoners New deaths over time
Alabama 60 28
Alaska * 5 10
Arizona 51 12
Arkansas 52 30
California 208 18
Colorado 28 16
Connecticut * 19 15
Delaware * 12 24
Florida 205 22
Georgia 88 16
Hawaii * 8 17
Idaho 6 8
Illinois 87 24
Indiana 50 19
Iowa 18 21
Kansas 14 14
Kentucky 44 36
Louisiana 35 23
Maine 1 5
Maryland 22 11
Massachusetts 20 25
Michigan 138 36
Minnesota 11 12
Mississippi 23 13
Missouri 42 16
Montana 6 13
Nebraska 6 11
Nevada 53 43
New Hampshire 2 8
New Jersey 53 29
New Mexico 28 43
New York 32 7
North Carolina 46 13
North Dakota 1 7
Ohio 134 27
Oklahoma 47 19
Oregon 42 29
Pennsylvania 97 21
Rhode Island * 2 7
South Carolina 37 20
South Dakota 7 19
Tennessee 41 19
Texas 187 13
Utah 15 22
Vermont * 0
Virginia 54 19
Washington 14 8
West Virginia 4 7
Wisconsin 25 11
Wyoming 3 13
Federal 236 14
* An asterisk denotes state counts that include both pre-trial detainees and sentenced prisoners under a unified system of jails and prisons.

Source: The Marshall Project and Associated Press weekly data collection from state and federal prison agencies. Download our data.
What's happening in your state

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 2,418 other prisoners have died of coronavirus-related causes. The week of Feb. 16 the number of deaths reported rose 1 percent in a week. The coronavirus has killed prisoners in most systems. One state—Vermont—has yet to report the death of a prisoner attributed to COVID-19.

Known cases prisoners has tested positive
Current case data not available
Deaths prisoners has died
Current death data not available
Tests tests were administered in the past week
Current test data not available

Testing data represents the number of tests administered, not the number of individuals who have been tested. Some states do not report tests until results have returned, which may create a delay in test counts.

Sources: The Marshall Project and Associated Press weekly data collection from state and federal prison agencies, The COVID Tracking Project. Download our data.
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, 13 states—Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia—released 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.

Since the start of the pandemic, more than 102,791 prison staff members have tested positive—with new cases at an all-time high the week of Dec. 22. Testing information for staff remains spotty in most states. Prisons have publicly reported 184 deaths among staff.

There have been at least 102,791 cases of coronavirus reported among prison staff.

70,651 staff have recovered.

There have been at least 184 deaths from coronavirus reported among prison staff.

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.

Known cases per 10,000 staff
Current case data not available
Deaths per 10,000 staff
Current death data not available
Sources: The Marshall Project and Associated Press weekly data collection from state and federal prison agencies, The COVID Tracking Project. Download our data.

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 and the Associated Press 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.

For six states with unified prison and jail systems—Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Vermont—we count testing and case numbers from both detainees awaiting trial and sentenced prisoners. Similarly, in Maryland, several pre-trial facilities in Baltimore City are included in the figures.

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 April and June. Beginning the week of July 28, we updated all prisoner population numbers, reflecting the number of incarcerated adults in state or federal prisons. Prior to that, population figures may have included additional populations, such as prisoners housed in other facilities, which were not captured in our COVID-19 data. In states with unified prison and jail systems, we include both detainees awaiting trial and sentenced prisoners.

We calculate the rates of infection and death to allow for the easiest comparison across prison systems. Because population snapshots do not account for movement in and out of prisons since March, and because many systems have significantly slowed the number of new people being sent to prison, it’s difficult to estimate the total number of people who have been held since March. To be conservative, we calculate our rates of infection using the largest prisoner population snapshots we had during this time period.

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.

Corrections departments in Indiana, Kansas, Montana, North Dakota and Wisconsin report coronavirus testing and case data for juvenile facilities; West Virginia reports figures for juvenile facilities and jails. For consistency of comparison with other state prison systems, we removed those facilities from our data that had originally been included prior to July 28. Pennsylvania’s coronavirus data included testing and cases for those who had been released on parole. We removed these tests and cases for prisoners from the data prior to July 28. The staff cases remain. Until early November, West Virginia’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation did not disaggregate its staff numbers by type of facility. After they began providing itemized numbers on staff cases on Nov. 3, we only included staff numbers from prisons and work release sites. We have gone back to past weeks and estimated the staff breakdown based on the total number of staff in each sector.

In Delaware, the number of prisoner deaths reported for Oct. 27 was incorrect and should have been 11, not 17. It has been updated here.

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.

In Texas, updates to the data overcounted the number of employee tests for the weeks of May 13, May 20 and May 27 after the state redesigned its website and how it classified tests for employees. These figures have been amended.

In Georgia, the prisoner cases and recoveries inadvertently counted some cases in private prisons and county facilities twice, for most weeks prior to Sept. 15. These figures have been corrected throughout the data.

Beginning the week of June 2, we moved our data collection up by one day. Data for that week represents a six-day count of cases between May 28 and June 2.

For the week of July 14, Michigan undertook an audit of cases and found duplicates that needed to be removed from its unique numbers. As a result, the number of cases dropped by 5 percent from the previous week. To estimate case counts for previous weeks, we have adjusted the original figures by that percentage. As an additional result of the audit, the prisoner test numbers fell by 717.

Starting with the week of July 21, South Carolina’s Department of Corrections began to report cases—but not testing counts—for prisoners held in “other locations,” such as county jails and hospitals.

The number of staff deaths in Maine for the week of July 21 was wrong. It should have been 0 and has been corrected.

In the week of Aug. 4, the Federal Bureau of Prisons began to report four deaths of people who had been released to home confinement, under the supervision of halfway houses. Their testing and case totals, however, do not include people on home confinement, and testing figures do not include private prisons.

In mid-August, Pennsylvania began reporting cases for prisoners and staff in community correction facilities. We have included these cases starting with numbers as of Aug. 18, and have updated inmate population figures to add individuals held in community corrections facilities. The number of individuals recovered among both staff and prisoners don't count individuals in community corrections facilities.

The total number of prisoner cases we reported dropped between Aug. 27 and Aug. 28, when we incorporated a data update from New Jersey that removed about 4 percent of cases in earlier weeks. New Jersey updated its prisoner case totals to remove cases where a prisoner tested negative for COVID-19 after initially testing positive. To estimate case counts for previous weeks, we have adjusted the original figures by that percentage.

The number of staff cases we initially reported for Sept. 22 and Sept. 29 in Massachusetts incorrectly counted 100 additional cases in the state. Thus, this also showed too many staff cases nationally. We have updated the figures and charts with the accurate total for both of those weeks.

Reporting by Katie Park and Tom Meagher

Graphics by Gabe Isman and Katie Park

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