*Reposted from Gotham Gazette. Written by Ethan Geringer-Sameth*

State-run psychiatric hospitals have been engulfed by this winter's coronavirus surge, casting one of the most vulnerable populations back into the pandemic's path and miring the state agency responsible for them.

Confirmed covid cases among patients and staff living and working in the state's 24 inpatient psychiatric centers have been ticking up for the last several weeks before jumping significantly more recently, mirroring the trend around the state.

In less than two weeks, from December 20 to January 2, the number of infected patients quadrupled to 177 (4% of a total population around 4,370) and staff cases increased tenfold to over 500 out of 12,230 employees, according to the most recent data posted by the State Office of Mental Health (OMH), which runs the facilities.

A majority of the more than 4,300 individuals living in OMH psychiatric centers have severe mental illness, many with simultaneous medical issues, making the facilities among the most covid-susceptible congregate settings in the state.

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