Health experts warn coronavirus could spread rapidly at prisons

Health experts say America's prisons and jails are a potential epicenter for the growing pandemic.

Doctors worry that with inmates sharing cells, sitting elbow-to-elbow at dining areas, and kept close together in hallways, the yard, and prison industry jobs, the virus could spread rapidly through facilities.

Health officials are concerned that it's nearly impossible to keep inmates six-feet apart from anyone. Other concerns are sub-standard medical services and some prisons have even banned hand sanitizer because of its alcohol content.

Nationwide, the Associated Press reports there have been 350 confirmed cases inside facilities in New York, California, Michigan, and a dozen other states.

Minnesota has reported no cases in jails, prisons, or shelters, officials said on Saturday. But concern over the coronavirus has some inmates hoping for policy changes to protect them.

“The same rules that apply out there should apply here,” Antonio Williams, who is serving time in Minnesota's Rush City Correctional Facility, told the AP.

Information from the Associated Press contributed to this report.