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Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Attorney General Bill Barr instructed the Bureau of Prisons on Friday to expand the use of home confinement and accelerate the release of eligible, high-risk inmates at three federal correctional facilities struck by the coronavirus, AP reports.

The state of play: As of Friday evening, 91 inmates and 50 staff had tested positive for COVID-19 at federal prisons across the U.S., per the agency.

Barr's directive focuses on three federal prisons: FCC Oakdale in Louisiana; FCI Elkton in Ohio; FCI Danbury in Connecticut, according to a memo obtained by Politico. He ordered the agency to conduct a review and identify inmates who may have risk factors associated with COVID-19.

Earlier this week, the bureau implemented a national lockdown to keep all federal inmates in their cells for 14 days.

  • Five inmates died at FCC Oakdale, and over a dozen more remain hospitalized, according to AP.
  • Three inmates died in FCI Elkton, AP notes.
  • FCI Danbury reported that 20 tested positive for coronavirus.

Worth noting: The public health guidance to remain 6 feet apart from others is essentially impossible in prison, per AP.

  • Meanwhile, some employees have been “forced to come to work against doctors’ orders to self-quarantine because the agency refuses to give them emergency leave,” Ohio union president Joseph Mayle told AP.

Go deeper: Coronavirus behind bars

Go deeper

1 hour ago - World

Army to award Purple Hearts to troops injured in Iran missile attack

Damage at Ain al-Asad military airbase housing U.S. and other foreign troops in the western Iraqi province of Anbar in January 2020. Photo: Ayman Henna/AFP via Getty Images

The Army has approved 39 more Purple Hearts for U.S. soldiers wounded in an Iranian military ballistic missile attack on an Iraq base in January 2020, the Army Times first reported Wednesday.

Why it matters: Most of these soldiers sustained brain injuries, per the Army Times. Then-President Trump dismissed their injuries at the time as "headaches" and "not very serious," sparking backlash from some veterans groups.

Scoop: U.S. begins denying Afghan immigrants

Afghan refugees on a bus bound for temporary housing after arriving in Greece. Photo: Byron Smith/Getty Images

The Biden administration has begun issuing denials to Afghans seeking to emigrate to the United States through the humanitarian parole process, after a system that typically processes 2,000 applications annually has been flooded with more than 30,000.

Why it matters: Afghans face steeper odds and longer processes for escaping to the U.S., despite the earlier sweeping efforts by the Biden administration to assist its allies. Immigration lawyers and advocacy groups say the government has set untenable barriers to a safe haven in the U.S.

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Dems invoke Robert Byrd to sell Manchin on Senate rules changes

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photos: Diana Walker, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A small group of Senate Democrats is privately invoking the legacy of late West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd in an effort to sway Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to support their plans to change the chamber's rules, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Manchin — who holds Byrd's Senate seat — has often referenced his predecessor's strong moral conviction and insistence on preserving the Senate as an institution, as justification for some of his tough positions.