Police officers and prison guards have some of the highest rates of COVID-19

COVID-19 was the leading cause of death among active duty police in 2020, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

264 federal, state, military, tribal, and local law enforcement officers died in the line-of-duty in 2020, an increase of 96% from the 135 officers killed during the same period. 


Of the 264 officers who have died in the line of duty, there were 145 confirmed Covid-19 cases.

COVID-19 actually took more police officer lives than all other causes of death combined. The next leading causes of death were firearms (48 officers, down from 51 in 2019) and traffic fatalities (44, versus 43 in 2019).

But that was also last year, before vaccines were widely, freely, and readily available. Now? As The Atlantic reports:

Although comprehensive data are difficult to come by, as many departments are refusing to track or report their employees' vaccination rates, the majority of police officers in large U.S. cities (including ChicagoNew York, and Los Angeles) remain unvaccinated, and rural police departments are likely to have even less vaccine uptake. This is despite abundant opportunity, after police unions advocated for early access to the vaccines, which the CDC appropriately granted to both police and prison staff while conspicuously neglecting incarcerated people, who are at even greater risk.

Things are looking similarly bleak amongst prison guards:

At least 114,000 prison workers have gotten COVID-19, more than triple the rate of illness seen in the general population. In spite of this, prison administrators have failed to successfully achieve high rates of vaccination among their staff; in most states that report these data, less than 50 percent of prison staff have reported getting a shot.

And of course, those prison guards by extension are the primary source of COVID-19 infections among incarcerated people. According to the Marshall Project, there were more than half a million COVID-19 cases recorded in US prisons, between staff and incarcerated people.

Remind me who's supposed to be keeping who safe?

Get Police Vaccinated [Eric Reinhart and Amanda Klonsky / The Atlantic]

2020 Law Enforcement Officers Fatalities Report [National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund]

Study finds more active-duty police officers died of COVID-19 in 2020 than all other causes combined [Colin McEwen / Case Western University Daily]

A Half-Million People Got COVID-19 in Prison. Are Officials Ready for the Next Pandemic? [Katie Park, Keri Blakinger, and Claudia Lauer / The Marshall Project]

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