Georgia Southern University has established the Institute for Health Logistics & Analytics to manage a new $7.2 million contract and partner with the Georgia Department of Public Health to better fight COVID-19 in the state’s jails, prisons and other confinement facilities.

The project has two initial purposes: to improve detection and mitigation of COVID-19 to reduce the risk of transmission among confinement facility staff and residents, and to reimburse Georgia confinement facilities for costs they have incurred from approved COVID-19 mitigation activities they have already implemented.

Experts estimate that state facilities have spent millions on COVID-19 mitigation efforts such as testing and supplies; personal protective equipment (PPE); reporting, monitoring, analysis and evaluation of control measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19; and expenses associated with meeting resident/detainee/inmate needs resulting from COVID-19-related limited/restricted mobility and/or access to the facility.

confinement facilities
Jessica Smith Schwind, Ph.D., associate professor of epidemiology at GSU was recently named director of the Institute for Health Logistics & AnalyticsCredit: GSU

“This pandemic has impacted the entire country in ways that few thought of before they ever heard of COVID-19,” said Jessica Schwind, Ph.D., associate professor of epidemiology in Georgia Southern’s Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health and the newly named director of the Institute for Health Logistics & Analytics.

“COVID-19 disease has been particularly troublesome in confinement facilities, where physical separation is impossible, many different people are forced to be together, germs can easily be spread from person to person in the air or on numerous common surfaces,” Schwind said. “Managers of these facilities have done an admirable job – we are going to help them be even more effective.”

This project is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States Department of Health and Human Services through the ELC Detection and Mitigation of COVID-19 in Confinement Facilities Grant Program as part of a financial assistance award to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

The institute and the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) are encouraging all correctional confinement facilities in Georgia to implement COVID-19 testing and mitigation strategies to reduce the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Facilities eligible to apply for COVID-19 mitigation projects include adult prisons and jails, juvenile confinement facilities, police lock-ups, and community confinement facilities.

The Institute for Health Logistics & Analytics will assist with the review and reimbursement of confinement mitigation projects and expenditures in enrolled facilities across the state of Georgia.

“This contract and the new Institute for Health Logistics & Analytics are great examples of what we mean when we say Georgia Southern is focused on public impact research,” said Carl L. Reiber, Ph.D., Georgia Southern’s provost and vice president for academic affairs. “Dr. Schwind’s expertise is in fighting communicable diseases and she has spent the last two years guiding Georgia Southern’s response to the pandemic. I’m delighted her expertise will be used throughout the state.”

For more information, visit the institute’s website.

About Georgia Southern University

Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/R2 institution founded in 1906, offers approximately 140 different degree programs serving more than 27,000 students through 10 colleges on three campuses in Statesboro, Savannah, Hinesville and online instruction. A leader in higher education in southeast Georgia, the University provides a diverse student population with expert faculty, world-class scholarship and hands-on learning opportunities. Georgia Southern creates lifelong learners who serve as responsible scholars, leaders and stewards in their communities.