With the COVID/19 pandemic, most of the world and the USA has been hit with a great public health emergency status. The consequences of this virus have been devastating since the first case was reported at the end of last year. Besides the countless deaths and economic problems that have come from the pandemic, the collapse of the healthcare system remains one of the main focuses that need to be avoided.
Before the pandemic, medical supplies could be bought by anyone in bulk and wholesale, with no restrictions on who could buy what. Now, particularly N95 masks like the 3M 8210 and the 3M 8511, both 3M N95 masks, have been very hard to find, and healthcare professionals have been struggling to find this mask that can protect against viruses like the flu or COVID-19, as well as dust and smoke.
Stopping the spread of the virus has been the goal, and right now the best resource we have available is the use of face masks, both reusable and disposable face masks. It’s been proven that anyone who uses one is preventing the spread of the disease.
Since jails have been points of high number of COVID-19 cases, it’s important to know if inmates are given face masks and what the rules are inside them.
COVID-19, a name that means coronavirus disease 2018, is caused by a new type of coronavirus called the SARS-CoV-2, a new species unknown to scientists. The first case was reported in China at the end of last year, and it mainly causes mild respiratory symptoms that resemble the flu virus. But the alarms began to ring across the globe when several forms of the disease started to be reported.
The severity of COVID-19 is linked to the presence of certain risk factors. For example, older people and immunocompromised patients, as well as people with cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, obesity, pre-existing lung diseases, or any type of organ failure, are particularly vulnerable to developing severe lung injury with the need for mechanical ventilation. Other complications include thrombosis and multi-organ failure, which can be lethal.
These are all considered medical conditions that make the person particularly vulnerable to the virus, and they need to be protected. This is why the use of face masks needs to be done massively to prevent them from getting infected, since many people can be asymptomatic carriers who spread the virus without knowing it. The new coronavirus causes a respiratory disease that is spread from person to person when they’re close. Like many other respiratory diseases that are spread this way, infection is optimized under conditions of poor ventilation and overcrowding, which are both met in the majority of the prisons around the country. This turns inmates into a high-risk group for spreading the disease.
The Marshall Project conducted some studies inside federal and state prisons in the United States, and their results show that they’re among the facilities hit the hardest by the pandemic. They’ve been tracking the infections inside the prisons, which shows that a considerable amount of cases happen inside them.
As of September 15, a minimum of 125,730 inmates had tested positive for the virus, but the cases inside prisons reached their peak during August. The increase during September could be explained by the increase in testing prisoners in states like Florida and California, but also by the outbreaks reported in Hawaii and Arkansas.
Social distancing rules are difficult to implement in environments like jails, leaving the use of face masks and hygiene rules as the two main resources to prevent the spread inside these facilities.
Amid a new surge of COVID-19 cases in the United States, the amount of protection for inmates depends highly on the county the prison is located. Jails across the states vary in the policies about both the requirement to wear face masks inside the jail and the supply of masks.
For example, in Colorado, in Arapahoe County’s jail, inmates can take off their surgical masks while in the dayrooms, and N95 masks are only issued for medically vulnerable inmates. In Adams County, inmates are tested for the disease when they arrive, and if they don’t have it, they’re not required to wear a mask. In Morgan County, all arrestees are isolated for 14 days before joining the others, and they’re not required to wear masks inside, and in Denver, they’re given masks but are not obligated to wear them.
One case stands out, and that is El Paso County, where more than 700 people tested positive, and have just started to provide them with cloth masks. According to their authorities, masks were reserved for people placed in quarantine or isolation, but as of November 1st, all inmates have started to wear a cloth mask.
In Colorado, multiple correctional facilities have been filed with lawsuits against them from the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado. The lawsuits stated that these facilities were not protecting medically vulnerable inmates correctly. Since the pandemic began, judges have issued several orders to require these facilities to implement the proper safety measures for their inmates.
One of these orders was against Sheriff Steve Reams on behalf of the Weld County Inmates. They claimed that the pandemic wasn’t being handled correctly during the surge that happened in the spring.
To end this informative piece, we want to remind our readers to always stay protected with alternatives to the most effective medical-grade face masks like the N95 masks, KN95 masks, or surgical masks, which have more antiviral properties and are better for virus protection. These need to be reserved for workers on the frontlines of the pandemic, and the general public, including kids over the age of 2 years old with masks in a smaller size, are urged to wear reusable cloth masks and other types of face-coverings.