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When Purell is Contraband, How Do YouContain Coronavirus?

Handwashing and sanitizers may make people on the outside safer. But in prison it can be impossible to follow public health advice.

“Jails and prisons are often dirty and have really very little in the way of infection control,” said Homer Venters, former chief medical officer at New York City’s notorious Rikers Island jail complex. “There are lots of people using a small number of bathrooms. Many of the sinks are broken or not in use. You may have access to water, but nothing to wipe your hands off with, or no access to soap.”

So far, the respiratory virus has sickened more than 97,000 people worldwide and at least 200 in the U.S. More than 3,300 people have died. As of late Thursday there were no reported cases in American prisons, though experts say it’s just a matter of time.

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