Inmate Deaths Reported At Eight Florida Prisons
The Florida Department of Health on Wednesday said a dozen inmates died from complications of COVID-19 at eight prisons within the past week.
Dade Correctional Institution, Everglades Correctional Institution, Lowell Correctional Institution and South Florida Reception Center each had two inmates die after testing positive for the disease. Columbia Correctional Institution, Florida Women’s Reception Center, Graceville Correctional Institution and Wakulla Correctional Institution each had an inmate death.
The Department of Corrections had earlier reported that the 12 inmates had died but had not released the names of the facilities where they were housed.
A total of 46 inmates have died from complications of the disease, but no Department of Corrections employees have died, according to the state. Two employees of contractors who work with the Department of Corrections have died after contracting the virus, department spokeswoman Michelle Glady confirmed July 1.
July has proven to be the deadliest month in Florida’s prison system since the start of the pandemic, with 22 inmates dying. As of mid-Wednesday, a total of 9,155 prisoners and corrections workers had tested positive for the disease, a jump from 8,432 cases reported on Tuesday. That total included 7,592 inmates.
Santa Rosa Correctional Institution and Lowell Correctional Institution saw their caseloads increase by more than 100 overnight. Santa Rosa had 700 inmate cases and Lowell had 629 inmate cases as of Wednesday. Columbia Correctional Institution has the most cases, with 1,258 inmates known to have been infected as of Wednesday.
Lowell, located north of Ocala, is the largest women’s prison in the state with 2,200 inmates. At least 444 of them – along with 20 staff members – have tested positive for the coronavirus. At nearby Florida Women’s Reception Center, 183 inmates have tested positive, plus 22 employees.
Kim Lawrence communicates often with her daughter at the Women’s Reception Center. Her daughter told her that a 32-year-old former dorm mate died, but she didn’t know the cause of death.
“So they’re freaking out. You know, I mean, it’s now you’re not just getting a cough and a cold. Some people, they’re realizing, are dying,” she told WMFE.
Corrections Secretary Mark Inch on Wednesday touted the care provided to the inmates at Columbia Correctional, which is near Lake City.
“The great majority of inmates at Columbia CI who have tested positive are showing mild or no symptoms of the virus," Inch said. "For those that do require an elevated level of medical care, our health care professionals continue to go above and beyond to provide outstanding medical attention.”
Information from WMFE was used in this report.