As much of the nation adjusts this week to sudden and indefinite home confinement, prison and jail wardens across the U.S. are scrambling to forestall an outbreak of COVID-19 inside a crowded U.S. correctional facility. With the highest incarceration rate of any nation in the world, the U.S. faces unique challenges among its roughly 2.3 million inmates as the coronavirus surges silently through all 50 states. As projected staff shortages and fears of thinning medical resources cascade through the nation’s patchwork of federal, state, county and private prisons and jails — where even rudimentary protective measures like alcohol-based hand sanitizers are considered contraband in many facilities — officials told ABC News they are preparing for the worst. “I think the threat level is at 10 now,” said Scott Kernan, a former secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. “The [nation’s] corrections leaders are struggling to figure out what the national response will be.” Burdened by often crowded and at times unsanitary conditions, a generation of aging inmates, and a large portion of its population suffering underlying chronic health issues, the tinderbox conditions inside at least some of the nation’s more than 6,000 incarceration facilities have corrections officials and


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