Alliance for Pandemic Preparedness

July 9, 2020

COVID-19 Cases and Deaths in Federal and State Prisons



  • COVID-19 case rates have been substantially higher and are escalating much more rapidly in prisons than in the general US population. These findings are based on officially reported data across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the Federal Bureau of PrisonsThe COVID-19 case rate of 3,251 per 100,000 prisoners was 5.5 times higher than the US population case rate of 587 per 100,000.  
  • The crude COVID-19 death rate in prisons was 39 deaths per 100,000 prisoners compared to the US population rate of 29 deaths per 100,000. It should be noted that individuals aged 65 years comprised a smaller share of the prison population than of the US population (3% vs 16%) and accounted for 81% of COVID-19 deaths in the US population. 

Saloner et al. (July 8, 2020). COVID-19 Cases and Deaths in Federal and State Prisons. JAMA.