HARRISBURG – Auditor General Eugene DePasquale Monday urged county prisons across Pennsylvania to expand testing of inmate populations to help control the spread of the coronavirus.
“We must make sure that Pennsylvania’s county prisons don’t have the same problem that we’ve seen in nursing homes, where COVID-19 spread like wildfire,” DePasquale said. “Fortunately, it would appear that mitigation efforts in prisons are working and perhaps expanded testing could help even more.”
DePasquale noted that Montgomery County prison recently tested all 948 inmates and found an infection rate of approximately 18 percent, according to published reports. That was a significantly higher rate of infection than had been identified prior to the mass testing being conducted.
The Allegheny County prison system had tested 48 inmates as of April 30 and found 27 were positive for the coronavirus, according to news reports. In addition, three prison employees tested positive.
State prisons reported 58 positive tests among inmates and three deaths as of May 1. Among employees, 101 have tested positive.
DePasquale pointed to the case of a female inmate at York County Prison who reportedly was sick for several days in late March before being moved from dorm housing to quarantine. The woman subsequently recovered and was released.
“I encourage all county prisons to adopt the best practices and guidance being promoted by the state departments of Health and Corrections,” DePasquale said. “Beyond testing, taking steps such as isolating new inmates for 14 days and providing free soap to inmates also may help to slow the spread.”
Learn more about the Department of the Auditor General online at www.PaAuditor.gov.