According to Annette Chambers-Smith, the director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, mass testing was conducted within prisons as the virus spread across the country.
Of the 2,500 inmates at the Marion Correctional Institution, located in north central Ohio, 2,300 were tested for the virus. Within that group, 2,028 tested positive and just under 95% were asymptomatic (displayed no symptoms), a group otherwise known as “silent carriers.”
Chambers-Smith, who oversees all 28 of Ohio’s correctional facilities, called those results, “very surprising.”
According to Reuters, 4,693 tests were given to prisoners in Arkansas, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia, 3,277 of which came back positive. As high as that number is, even more surprising is that of those 3,277 prisoners who tested positive, 96% were asymptomatic.
It is important to note that some individuals who have been shown to have the virus but who are asymptomatic at the time of testing may develop symptoms at a later point.
Most state prisons did not release details on the age or demographics of the inmates tested.
These findings have huge implications for the 2.3 million individuals behind bars across the United States, as well as for the general population within the country and around the world.
These numbers suggest that silent carriers, who are believed to still be able to transmit the disease, may be a driving force in the spread of the virus that has so far infected over 2.9 million people around the world and claimed over 200,000 lives.