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Crowded US Jails Were Cause of Several Covid-19 Cases

Millions of Covid-19 cases could have been avoided if the US had done more to reduce its incarceration rate. Researchers have come to this conclusion after conducting what they claim is the first study to link mass incarceration rates to pandemic vulnerability. They also point out that many of the preventable illnesses happened in minority neighbourhoods. According to a study by Northwestern University and the World Bank, the US prison and jail system serves as an epidemic engine. Despite some counties’ efforts to reduce jail numbers, a large number of people have been cycling between crowded detention facilities and their home areas, fueling the engine.

The researchers found a correlation between an 80% reduction in the US jail population and a 2% decrease in the daily Covid-19 case growth rate after reviewing data from 1,605 counties. According to the researchers, Dr. Eric Reinhart of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Daniel Chen of the Toulouse School of Economics and the World Bank, such a significant reduction in incarceration could have been achieved by instituting alternatives to jail for nonviolent offences.

According to Reinhart, the 2 percent decline is a conservative estimate, but it still indicates a significant potential shift. He claims that tens of thousands of deaths may have been avoided. Among industrialised countries providing such data, the United States has traditionally had the highest incarceration rate. Despite having fewer than 5% of the global population, it has recorded more Covid-19 cases and deaths than any other country throughout the pandemic. The new study, which was published in the journal JAMA Network Open on Thursday, reveals that those events are linked.

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