Michigan prisons nearing “herd immunity”
If you are a prisoner in Michigan, you are more likely than not to contract COVID-19. Since the pandemic began, 12 of Michigan’s prison have reported over 75% infection rates. Almost 62% of the 40,603 prisoners tested for the coronavirus have come up positive.
While horrifying, it has provided a venue for testing the theory of “herd immunity” – the idea that the spread of the virus can be controlled by allowing it to spread unfettered until a majority of the population has been infected.
That testing has run up against a roadblock – namely, new variants of the coronavirus that threaten to upend efforts to contain it.
Last week, state officials announced that 90 people at a prison in Ionia County had tested positive for a new strain of the coronavirus – B.1.1.7, also known as the U.K. variant.
B.1.1.7 is estimated to be 50% more contagious than the dominant strains of the virus in the U.S. and scientists are still working to figure out whether people who have already had COVID-19 can be reinfected.
Vaccination is one way of protecting against COVID-19 and its variants, but so far prison inmates haven’t been on the vaccine priority list.
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