Coronavirus continues to spread in Florida prisons

Prison bars background (WJXT)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida’s prison system recorded more than 500 new COVID-19 cases and three inmate deaths over the weekend, according to data released Monday by the state Department of Corrections.

As of midday Monday, 8,551 inmates and 1,769 corrections workers had tested positive for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, officials said.

In total, 53 inmates have died from complications associated with the virus as it spreads throughout the state prison system.

The number of corrections workers known to be infected with the virus increased by 94 cases since Friday.

The new cases include Department of Corrections Secretary Mark Inch and Deputy Secretary Ricky Dixon. Inch and Dixon tested positive on July 30 and are self-isolating, corrections officials said in a news release Friday night.

The agency, which houses approximately 87,700 prisoners, reported Monday that an additional 425 inmates tested positive for the virus since Friday. Dozens of new inmate cases were reported at several correctional facilities, including Lowell Correctional Institution, which has 813 inmate cases; Jefferson Correctional Institution, which has 173 cases; and Northwest Florida Reception Center, with 107 cases.

According to Monday’s report, corrections and health officials have conducted 59,484 tests on inmates, with 13,972 test results pending. It is unknown how many tests have been conducted on corrections workers throughout the state, because agency officials only disclose the number of employees who have tested positive for COVID-19.