96 Percent of Inmates in 4 State Prisons Who Tested for Wuhan Virus were Asymptomatic

According to a Reuters report, a staggering number of inmates from four states’ prison systems that tested positive for the Wuhan virus have been asymptomatic.

In prisons in Arkansas, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia, 3,277 inmates received positive tests for the virus. Of those observed, 96 percent of the inmates were asymptomatic. In other words, they had no visible symptoms of the disease.

Asymptomatic patients can still spread the Wuhan virus unknowingly, which places at-risk populations in danger of catching the virus. As a result, health experts have become concerned about this aspect of pandemic and have advised state government officials to enact social distancing measures.

Asymptomatic carriers offer a unique challenge in the country’s state prison system where inmates are usually in close contact with each other.

“It adds to the understanding that we have a severe undercount of cases in the U.S.,” Leana Wen, adjunct associate professor of emergency medicine at George Washington University, told Reuters. “The case count is likely much, much higher than we currently know because of the lack of testing and surveillance.”

Michigan, Tennessee and California have kicked off mass testing in state prisons

The Hill reported on the results:

The results in those state prisons were similar; Tennessee reported a majority of its positive cases didn’t show symptoms, while Michigan reported that ‘a good number’ of the 620 positive cases showed no symptoms of the virus.

Other states, like Florida, New York, and Texas are only testing inmates who demonstrate symptoms.

“Prison agencies are almost certainly vastly undercounting the number of COVID cases among incarcerated persons,” Michele Deitch, a corrections specialist and senior lecturer at the University of Texas, informed Reuters.

“Just as the experts are telling us in our free-world communities, the only way to get ahead of this outbreak is through mass testing.”

So far, there have been 980,00 cases of Wuhan virus infections and over 55,000 virus related deaths based on data gathered by Johns Hopkins University.