Answer: Yes.

Today, Chad Goerzen and I looked at the new numbers from the CDCR tool and laid them over the county numbers from the L.A. Times. A few patterns emerge. First, a lot of testing is being done at San Quentin, but the vast majority of tests are coming back negative. How much we can trust this given the lag between testing date and result date is an important question, but it is at least a little bit encouraging. Second, two places in particular, which had seen peaks and valleys in infections–Avenal and CIM–are seeing infections.

For today, though, I want to point out something striking: Out of the top 15 counties in terms of infection numbers, 12 also have prisons that have seen new infections in the last 14 days. Look at the graph on the top. The picture is incomplete (we need data on detention centers and jails) but it is striking. Without contact tracing it is impossible to tell a causal story, but this correlation should be enough to easily counter the assumption that prisons are somehow separate from the community, or worse, that there’s some trade off between saving lives behind bars and on the outside. The virus doesn’t read the CA Penal Code, nor does it know where the prison gates are. Nor is there an allotted number of infections and deaths and it’s merely a question of who’s more “deserving.” If people behind prison are healthy and taken care of, people in the community are healthy and taken care of, and vice versa.

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