Court Watch Snapshot: May 20

Lack of Testing in ACJ Will Fuel the Second Wave

District and common pleas courts feed and maintain the Allegheny County Jail population. Folks detained there become subject to the care of the county and so does their health and wellness. ACJ governance is refusing to adopt a platform for universal  COVID-19 testing. and is now reporting data as if the jail is coronavirus free.

Here is what’s been recorded: 

The  ACJ population1668
Number of individuals tested65
Number of Negative results35
Number of Pending result2
Number of Positive results38
*1 hospitalized
Number of COVID-19 positive people who have recovered or been released from ACJ28
Number of COVID-19 positive people remaining at the ACJ0
https://www.alleghenycounty.us/jail/index.aspx

Throughout the nation, jails and prisons are reporting staggering numbers of COVID-19 outbreaks. Philadelphia County Jails were found to have 75% of their population testing positive for coronavirus, and will now integrate universal testing at their jails.

Allegheny County insists on a test-less methodology shown in their failure to pass a motion for universal testing.  By Wednesday this week, only 65 out of the 1665 detained individuals have been tested for coronavirus. This constitutes a %.04 testing rate of the people detained at ACJ; less than ½ of 1% of the ACJ population has been tested. 3 new tests have been given this week.

The county jail is not a vacuum, but has workers, staff services, PO’s and CO’s, etc., filing through on a regular basis. Long and short term destined people are vulnerable to unsanitary conditions and contracting the virus. Rather than moving decisively forward with an interest in our public health that aims to overcome the current crisis and divert the threat of a second wave, authorities are failing to protect lives by testing widely.

We support Councilperson Bethany Hallam’s motion for universal testing for county-run facilities and urge the council committee, under the leadership of Councilperson Olivia “Liv” Bennet, to test all people under county care.