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Official: Nearly all inmates in Alaska prison have had virus

December 30, 2020 GMT

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska Department of Corrections said almost every inmate in the state’s biggest prison has had the coronavirus.

Sarah Gallagher, a spokesperson for the state department, estimated on Tuesday that 1,115 of the Goose Creek Correctional Center’s 1,236 inmates had tested positive for the coronavirus since the outbreak at the prison began in November.

As of Monday, 112 of those cases were active, Gallagher said.

Among all Alaska correctional facilities, 1,966 inmates have been infected with the virus, which represents more than 40% of the total inmate population in the state, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

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Gallagher said that among those infections, 192 people tested positive for the virus when they arrived at prisons and another 1,774 people became infected in the prisons.

A total of five inmates have died from the coronavirus in the state, including two within the last week. There have been 22 inmates that have been hospitalized as a result of the virus.

Gallagher said that eight inmates with medical conditions have been vaccinated. In addition, 46 prison staffers have received the vaccine.

State officials have debated when inmates and prison employees should be vaccinated and how prioritized the groups should be. Complicating the debate is the fact that many are pretrial inmates and have not been convicted of a crime.

At least 1,738 inmates have died in prisons across the country due to the coronavirus as of mid-December, according to data compiled by The Marshall Project.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.