Florida prison virus toll keeps climbing

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida corrections officials on Tuesday reported 77 new coronavirus cases among prisoners and staff, as well as two more inmate deaths related to COVID-19.

The number of inmates who have died from complications of COVID-19 climbed to 86 on Tuesday, with 40 percent of the deaths occurring in the month of August.

Three correctional officers also have died after contracting the deadly respiratory illness this month.

Since Monday, an additional 35 inmates and 42 workers have tested positive for the virus.

In total, 15,401 inmates and 2,455 corrections workers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic in March, according to data released Tuesday by the state Department of Corrections.

As the virus continues to spread throughout the state prison system, the number of inmates who have tested positive for the highly contagious virus has skyrocketed.

Lowell Correctional Institution, a women’s prison in Ocala, reached 1,000 cases on Tuesday. Columbia Correctional Institution, a prison in Lake City with 1,338 inmate cases, is the only other prison in the state with more than 1,000 inmate cases. But other prisons are nearing the 1,000-inmate benchmark. For example, Mayo Annex has 949 cases, Suwannee Correctional Institution has 811 cases, and Century Correctional Institution has 766 cases. Florida’s prison system houses about 87,700 inmates.