The number of Florida corrections workers who have tested positive for COVID-19 surpassed 1,000 on Friday, according to the state Department of Corrections.
As the highly contagious virus continues to spread across Florida’s prison system, 3,520 inmates also have been diagnosed with the disease. An additional two prisoners have died, bringing the total number of inmate deaths to 32.
The Department of Corrections has been grappling with a soaring number of infections among its workforce. Over the past week, an additional 255 corrections workers - which include probation officers, corrections officers, nurses, food service workers and administrative personnel - have tested positive for the disease. As of mid-day Friday, 1,009 workers had tested positive. In response to workers getting sick, the department has launched emergency plans at two prisons - Dade Correctional Institution and Jefferson Correctional Institution - to address significant staffing shortages.
The plans require employees to work 12-hour shifts up to six days a week to maintain adequate staffing levels. Some prisons have also seen the number of inmates who have tested positive for COVID-19 explode this past week.
Columbia Correctional Institution, a prison in rural North Florida, recorded 455 positive cases among inmates Friday. Ninety-four percent of the facility’s inmate cases were recorded this week.
The Department of Corrections also announced Thursday that it has extended through Aug. 17 a suspension on visitors to prisons to try to curb the spread of the disease.