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Third Florida Prisoner Dies Of COVID-19

barbed wire prison fence
WMFE
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A third Florida prisoner has died as a result of COVID-19, state corrections officials said Thursday. The Florida Department of Corrections did not release the name of the facility where the inmate was housed.

Two inmates at Blackwater River Correctional Facility in Santa Rosa County also have died from complications associated with COVID-19, The News Service of Florida reported Wednesday.

Blackwater, a private prison operated by The Geo Group Inc., is the state’s hardest-hit correctional facility, with 34 inmates and nine workers testing positive for COVID-19 as of Thursday afternoon.

Blackwater inmate Jeffrey Sand, 69, died on April 9, according to Jeff Martin, the director of the medical examiner’s office that oversees Santa Rosa County. William Wilson, an 84-year-old Blackwater prisoner, died on April 12, Martin said. Corrections officials kept the two inmates’ deaths secret for nearly a week.

As of Thursday, 63 workers and 44 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Department of Corrections.

COVID-19 has been detected in 25 prisons and three probation offices throughout the state corrections system, which has roughly 94,000 inmates, 23,000 workers and 145 facilities.

Tomoka Correctional Institution is the latest prison to report a sudden outbreak of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

As of Thursday, seven inmates and three workers at the Daytona Beach facility tested positive for the highly contagious coronavirus, a jump from zero cases on Monday.

After refusing for weeks to reveal how many prisoners and staff have been tested for the virus, the Department of Corrections on Wednesday night began releasing information about inmate testing.

As of Thursday, 310 Florida prisoners have been tested for the virus, with 54 percent of tests results pending, according to the corrections agency. The number of tests that have been performed encompass approximately 0.3 percent of the state’s 94,000 inmates. Officials have not disclosed the number of staff who have undergone testing for the virus.