The Alabama Department of Corrections has reported its fourth inmate death after testing positive for COVID-19.

According to the Associated Press, 80-year-old Robert Steward began showing symptoms of the virus on June 8, tested positive June 10, and died at a hospital Sunday, June 14. The Alabama Department of Corrections is said to have tested all inmates in the infirmary at Staton Correctional Facility, and 13 tested positive.

Clarence Shepherd, also 80, died Friday after showing symptoms of the virus.

The other two inmates who have died were above the age of 65 as well. However, prison overcrowding has been a longstanding issue and one which is being looked into as a possible contributor toward high coronavirus infection rates, though rates of infection in Alabama prisons are not as great as many other states.

According to the Wall Street Journal, more than 70% of inmates tested in federal prison through the month of April tested positive.

One source says that by June 9, 43,967 people in state and federal prison had tested positive for the virus. So far, over 25,000 have recovered. See state by state data here.

We know that the purpose of social distancing is to decrease the likelihood of an infected person's spittle reaching others, but in situations where social distancing is almost impossible to enforce, the probability of spreading germs is higher than others.

Because it is possible to be asymptomatic, it would probably be in the best interest of the corrections to have every inmate tested upon arrival and held in isolation until results come back.  It is highly unlikely, but it would definitely keep numbers down in a controlled population.

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