By Faye Gaston

The Alabama Department of Corrections made public announcements concerning COVID-19 cases in state prisons as of December 28, 2020.

There were 126 positive cases in inmates and 52 positive cases in prison employees at the Correctional Facility in Union Springs.

The total number of positive cases in Alabama prisons was 1,161 inmates and 804 employees. Presumed recovered were 1,003 inmates and 529 employees.

There were 54 inmate deaths and two employee deaths.

Pre-existing health problems are factors to consider in possible deaths.

In January 2019 Alabama prisons were at 170% capacity.

More than 40 public health professionals sent an open letter to Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and other elected officials urging steps for COVID-19 "virus containment changes" in prisons.

Included in the letter was the assessment that, "Even with increased access to hand sanitizer and soap for hand-washing, physical distancing is impossible in Alabama's densely populated jails and prisons."

Alabama's Department of Corrections distributed face masks to inmates.

Masks were made at sewing factories at two state prisons. Access to liquid antibacterial soap was provided.

The social distancing of at least six feet between individuals is difficult to impossible in prisons where inmates often live in tightly packed dormitories with rows of beds or bunk beds.

As of December 30, 2020 there were 44 more inmates in Bullock County who tested positive.

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