Prison Is A Hotspot For COVID As Protocols For Testing And Release Differ State To State

Nacola McNeil was serving a 30 day sentence in a Raleigh North Carolina half-way house. Several days after entering the facility she started experiencing pain in her hip and was sent to an emergency room. Afterwards, she tested positive for COVID-19 and was admitted to the hospital. McNeil voiced her concerns to officials at the prison in April, warning them that coronavirus was spreading in her unit. McNeil asked corrections officers “What makes you think our unit is exempt?”. “That virus is here” she said.

McNeil and a few others were released from prison. Their release occurred on April 22, just one day after officials announced the first case inside the prison. John Bull, a spokesperson for the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, said in an email that they “were not tested on their release in April”.  “If they would have tested me and I was positive, would they have let me leave prison early?” asked McNeil. “I should have been tested before leaving prison.” McNeil spent three weeks recovering and quarantining in a motel room paid for by the Salvation Army.

Prior to Nacola McNeil reporting to the prison half-way house she was not tested for COVID-19. Often people enter and leave prison without medical testing to determine their health status or whether they have a communicable disease that could be transmitted to others. Prisons are “hotspots of COVID-19” as many state prison’s don’t require people entering or leaving prison to test or quarantine. States have differing protocols and inadequate resources in place to prevent the spread of contagious diseases such as COVID-19.

Only 13 states said they coordinated with local Departments of Health, and only 3 states provided hotel rooms for people who are positive allowing them to self-quarantine. The Marshall Project and The Associated Press reported that “The prison infection rate is more than four times as high as among people on the outside”. Some states are more than 10 times as high.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here