Representative Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts suggested earlier this week that inmates should be prioritized for coronavirus vaccines alongside essential workers.
Pressley, a Democrat, made the comments in an interview with CNN.
“I’m going to continue to fight for our most vulnerable communities who have been disproportionally impacted by the virus, for our health care workers, for our essential workers, for incarcerated men and women to be prioritized in the distribution of the vaccine,” Pressley said in the interview on Sunday.
Massachusetts has reportedly already selected incarcerated individuals as one of the first groups to be vaccinated, similar to the elderly and other vulnerable groups, according to Newsweek. (RELATED: Eight Nuns Die From Coronavirus In One Week At Wisconsin Catholic Convent)
“At this point, these are not stimulus checks. They’re stimulating nothing. These are survival checks. This is about basic needs,” Democratic Rep. Ayanna Pressley says on Covid-19 relief negotiations. pic.twitter.com/1rWOdG0vmi
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) December 20, 2020
A group of academics from top universities urged the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week to prioritize inmates in vaccination efforts, citing higher infection rates and mortality rates. (RELATED: Death Row Inmate Scheduled To Be Executed Days Before Inauguration Infected With Coronavirus)
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, correctional facilities have accounted for a majority of the largest single-site, cluster outbreaks across the country,” wrote the academics in a published white paper. “Nearly 20% of the prison population has tested positive for COVID-19, with an infection rate that is higher than five times and an age-adjusted mortality rate that is three times that of the general population.”
Coronavirus outbreaks in prisons have led several high-profile inmates to request early releases. Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen left prison 18 months early due to the virus, and celebrities such as Bill Cosby and R. Kelly have made similar requests.