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More Florida prison workers test positive for COVID-19

2nd juvenile justice worker also tests positive for coronavirus

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Thirty-seven corrections workers have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the Florida Department of Corrections said Tuesday.

The latest count is an increase from 29 workers confirmed Monday by prison-system officials.

The employees work at 17 prison facilities and three probation offices. Apalachee Correctional Institution in Jackson County had the most workers who had tested positive Tuesday, with seven. That was a jump of four cases within 24 hours.

Blackwater River Correctional Facility, a prison operated by The Geo Group Inc. through a state contract, is the only prison with confirmed COVID-19 cases within the inmate population.

Four inmates and five workers at the Santa Rosa County prison have been diagnosed with the respiratory disease, which is caused by the coronavirus.

“Blackwater River Correctional Facility staff are wearing personal protective equipment to prevent the spread of germs that could endanger inmates and staff,” according to a statement provided by Rose Hebert, a spokeswoman with the Department of Management Services, the agency that oversees private prison contracts.

As coronavirus spreads in Florida’s prison system, state officials have not revealed a tally of inmates who have been tested for COVID-19 or placed in medical isolation, despite numerous requests for the information from The News Service of Florida.

Inmates who experience symptoms indicative of COVID-19 are placed in medical isolation, pending Department of Health tests, according to a news release from the corrections department.

2nd juvenile justice worker tests positive for coronavirus

A worker at a Clearwater juvenile-detention facility has tested positive for COVID-19, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice announced Tuesday.

The employee of the Pinellas Regional Juvenile Detention Center is the second juvenile-facility worker to test positive for the highly contagious disease.

The other worker is employed by the Broward Youth Treatment Center in Pembroke Pines, officials confirmed last month.

State officials said they will not specify the employees’ job duties, gender or age to protect personal health information.

No youths inside the two facilities have tested positive for the virus, according to a news release from the department.

The release said youth are “continuously being monitored and screened for symptoms and if a youth becomes symptomatic, he or she is isolated from other youth and the facility’s designated health authority is contacted.”

Pinellas County, the site of the 100-bed juvenile facility where the latest worker tested positive, had 387 cases as of Tuesday morning.