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4 Florida inmates on ventilators

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – At least 16 Florida inmates who have tested positive for COVID-19 have been hospitalized, including four prisoners who are on ventilators, state corrections officials told The News Service of Florida on Thursday.

The inmates are in the hospital because they required a “significant level of treatment” after contracting COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, the Florida Department of Corrections said in an email.

The hospitalized inmates had been housed at prisons operated by the state, according to corrections officials.

The number of inmates at privately operated prisons who have been hospitalized is unknown. It is also unclear how many of the 18 inmates who have died from complications of COVID-19 died at a hospital or at a correctional facility.

“Some of the inmates who tested positive for COVID-19 who died while in custody passed away while receiving treatment at an area hospital. Some passed away while receiving treatment at the institution,” agency officials said in a prepared statement.

As of Thursday, corrections and health officials have conducted 15,458 tests on inmates, including 1,598 positive cases. The department’s tally of inmate tests includes re-tests, so it is unclear how many of the state’s roughly 94,000 inmates have been tested for the virus at least once.