Am J Public Health. 2021 Mar 18:e1-e10. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2020.306117. Online ahead of print.
Objectives. To assess SARS-CoV-2 transmission within a correctional facility and recommend mitigation strategies.Methods. From April 29 to May 15, 2020, we established the point prevalence of COVID-19 among incarcerated persons and staff within a correctional facility in Arkansas. Participants provided respiratory specimens for SARS-CoV-2 testing and completed questionnaires on symptoms and factors associated with transmission.Results. Of 1647 incarcerated persons and 128 staff tested, 30.5% of incarcerated persons (range by housing unit = 0.0%-58.2%) and 2.3% of staff tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. Among those who tested positive and responded to symptom questions (431 incarcerated persons, 3 staff), 81.2% and 33.3% were asymptomatic, respectively. Most incarcerated persons (58.0%) reported wearing cloth face coverings 8 hours or less per day, and 63.3% reported close contact with someone other than their bunkmate.Conclusions. If testing remained limited to symptomatic individuals, fewer cases would have been detected or detection would have been delayed, allowing transmission to continue. Rapid implementation of mass testing and strict enforcement of infection prevention and control measures may be needed to mitigate spread of SARS-CoV-2 in this setting. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print March 18, 2021: e1-e10. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2020.306117).