Apr 15, 2020 - Health

DOJ watchdog reviews federal prison conditions amid surge in coronavirus cases

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Justice Department's inspector general is remotely assessing federal prisons to determine whether the coronavirus is being properly mitigated, according to the watchdog's website.

The big picture: Federal and state prisons have acted as petri dishes for the virus in the U.S., as overcrowded and often unsanitary conditions can make social distancing and recommended hygiene nearly impossible for inmates.

Driving the news: Several state-run jails have released prisoners to fight the spread of the coronavirus. In contrast, one effort taken by the Bureau of Prisons to slow the spread is mandating that all inmates be "secured in their assigned cells" until May 18.

  • Chicago's Cook County jail — a state-run facility — is the largest-known source of coronavirus infections in the U.S., the New York Times reported last week.

What they're saying: “The Bureau of Prisons is working hard to prevent, contain, and mitigate the spread of this global pandemic in its correctional settings, and we look forward to the OIG’s assessment of these efforts,” Bureau spokesperson Justin Long told AP in a statement.

The bottom line: 446 federal inmates and 248 employees from the Bureau of Prisons have tested positive for COVID-19 as of Tuesday, and 14 inmates have died.

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Jun 4, 2020 - Health

HHS requests data on race and ethnicity with coronavirus test results

A nurse writes a note as a team of doctors and nurses performs a procedure on a coronavirus patient in the Regional Medical Center on May 21 in San Jose, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Department of Health and Human Services moved on Thursday to require that an individual's race, ethnicity, age and sex be submitted to the agency with novel coronavirus test results.

Why it matters: Some cities and states have reported the virus is killing black people at disproportionately high rates. There are gaps in the national picture of how many people of color are affected, since the data has not been a requirement for states to collect or disclose.

Trump's week of viral quicksand

Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Stories about President Trump's photo op at St. John's church after peaceful protesters were forcefully cleared from the area averaged the most online attention of any issue about the president this week.

Why it matters: Trump's force-over-compassion approach to the demonstrators protesting the murder of George Floyd had Republican allies backpedaling to keep a distance — and led to a wave of condemnations that got plenty of online traction on their own.

Biden formally secures Democratic presidential nomination

Joe Biden speaks at Delaware State University's student cente on June 5. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden became the formal Democratic presidential nominee on Friday evening, per AP.

The big picture: Biden has been the presumptive frontrunner to take on President Trump since Sen. Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign in early April.