COVID-19 Cases Continue To Climb In Florida Prisons

Apr 22, 2020

Florida Department of Corrections officials on Tuesday said 123 inmates and 98 corrections workers have tested positive for COVID-19, as the highly contagious novel coronavirus continues to spread within the state prison system. 

COVID-19 has caused four inmate deaths and has been detected in 56 prisons and four probation offices across the state as of Tuesday, corrections officials said.

The majority of inmates who have tested positive for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, are in three prisons: Blackwater River Correctional Facility in Milton, Tomoka Correctional Institution in Daytona Beach and Sumter Correctional Institution in Bushnell.

At the Daytona Beach facility, 47 inmates and seven prison workers tested positive for the virus, officials said Tuesday. Sumter Correctional Institution has 31 inmates and four prison workers who tested positive for COVID-19 as of Tuesday.

Florida Department of Corrections officials said Sunday they are prioritizing the distribution of cloth face masks to corrections workers and inmates at the Sumter and Tomoka correctional facilities. At Blackwater, four inmates have died from complications of COVID-19, according to the local medical examiner.

The Santa Rosa County prison, which is operated by The Geo Group Inc., has 42 inmates and 10 workers who have tested positive for the virus, corrections officials said Tuesday. Across the state, 3,966 inmates have been placed in medical isolation or medical quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19.

The vast majority of the inmates who had been exposed --- 3,884 cases --- were in medical quarantine, a practice used to separate people who came into close contact with others who tested positive for the virus or who were symptomatic, corrections officials said.

As of Tuesday, 376 Florida prisoners have been tested for the virus, with 21 percent of test results pending, according to the corrections agency. Officials said 98 workers have tested positive for the virus, a jump from 84 cases reported Monday.

Agency officials have not disclosed the number of employees who have undergone testing. Florida's prison system is the third-largest in the nation, with roughly 94,000 inmates, 23,000 workers and 145 facilities.