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Social distancing to minimize transmission of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is virtually impossible in correctional facilities, whose residents live in close confinement, share toilets and showers, and typically sit shoulder-to-shoulder in mess halls.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that people who are incarcerated or detained in a particular facility often come from a variety of locations, increasing the chance of introducing COVID-19. Plus, options to isolate people with COVID-19 are usually limited, and many facilities restrict access to soap and paper towels and ban alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
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In addition, incarcerated individuals are more likely than the general population to have underlying illnesses, such as cancer, diabetes, or substance use disorder, that increase their risk of developing severe COVID-19, said Daniel Lopez Acuña, MD, MPH, who helped craft new COVID-19 guidelines for prisons and jails for the World Health Organization (WHO).
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