Nearly every inmate at Alaska's biggest prison has contracted COVID-19

Nearly every inmate at Alaska's biggest prison has contracted COVID-19
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New data from the Alaska Department of Corrections (DOC) shows that almost every inmate held at the state's largest prison has contracted the coronavirus since the pandemic hit the facility in November, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

Out of 1,236 total inmates at Goose Creek Correctional Center (GCCC), 1,115 have tested positive for COVID-19, corrections spokeswoman Sarah Gallagher told the newspaper on Tuesday.

"To date, 1,271 tests have been recorded at GCCC, though this figure may be slightly increased due to the fact that DOC has performed both antigen and PCR tests, which may have resulted in an offender’s positive test being counted twice," Gallagher told the Daily News. "We believe roughly 1,115 offenders have tested positive at Goose Creek to date."

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As of Monday, only 112 of those were active cases, Gallagher reportedly added. 

The Anchorage Daily News reported that more than 40 percent of all Alaska inmates have contracted COVID-19. Of the 1,966 total cases, 1,774 of those were a result of internal spread. Only 192 cases were traced to outsiders.

The Alaska Board of Corrections said its top priority at the moment is "preventing the introduction of COVID-19 into our facilities," according to a statement on its website.

"The health and safety of the people who live and work in our correctional facilities is paramount, and DOC has taken swift and assertive action in confronting this public health emergency," the statement added.

As of Tuesday, eight infirmary-bound inmates and 46 prison staff have received the coronavirus vaccine across the state.

Gallagher told the Daily News she wasn't sure what the timeline looks like for general population vaccination, though the federal Bureau of Prisons said in November that the first vaccine doses would be prioritized for prison staff across the country, despite the fact that much higher rates of COVID-19 infections have been seen among prisoners.

Prisons have been flagged as coronavirus hot spots since the pandemic began, with a federal facility in Terre Haute, Ind., recently making headlines as another superspreader location.