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COVID-19 Testing and Prevention in Correctional Settings

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Transmission of the COVID-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) is magnified in correctional settings due to restricted access to sanitizing supplies and personal protective equipment, close congregant living conditions, and exposure to correctional staff who unknowingly transmit the infection from the community. These populations are also more likely to experience severe and life-threatening symptoms of COVID-19, due to higher rates of underlying medical conditions. Therefore, there is an urgent need for the development and implementation of long-term testing strategies targeting incarcerated populations and correctional staff.
RADx (Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics for Underserved Populations) is a short-term funding mechanism that is designed to capitalize on the existing infrastructure and networks of funded projects to quickly engage historically at-risk and under-served populations in significant COVID-19 testing efforts.

This funded RADx is a competitive revision of the JCOIN TCN PATHS, with  interdisciplinary researchers from Duke, UNC-CH, Yale, Brown, The University of Miami, Stanford, and the Puerto Rico Science, Technology, and Research Institute.  


The objective of this two-year study is to increase the reach, access, uptake, and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 among incarcerated people and staff, while also gaining a better understanding of the ethical issues surrounding novel medical interventions, like vaccine trials, with incarcerated populations. This project will focus on amplifying testing efforts in incarcerated settings in Florida, Rhode Island, Minnesota, and Yakima County, Washington.


The specific aims are to:


  1. Identify ethical concerns and potential solutions for COVID-19 testing and vaccine strategies in correctional facilities using a community-engaged strategy through a series of focus groups with incarcerated persons, medical staff, and criminal  justice staff.

  2. Characterize baseline COVID-19 incidence, disease progression and related-outcomes among incarcerated individuals and correctional staff and effectiveness of contact tracing and testing in correctional facilities.


MPI: Lauren Brinkley-Rubinstein
Project Director: Madelene Travis
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