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2 more Florida inmates die from COVID-19 complications

Prison bars background
Prison bars background (WJXT)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Two more Florida inmates have died from complications of COVID-19, bringing the coronavirus death toll among prisoners to 88, according to a report released by state corrections officials on Wednesday.

The latest report showed that an additional 44 inmates and 30 corrections workers tested positive for the highly contagious coronavirus, which causes the respiratory illness known as COVID-19, since Tuesday.

As of mid-Wednesday, 15,445 inmates and 2,496 corrections workers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic earlier this year.

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ response to the virus, which continues to spread throughout Florida prisons, has remained focused on testing and isolating symptomatic inmates and workers.

State officials have offered testing to inmates and workers at 49 prisons in various parts of the state. Corrections workers are encouraged to get tested as part of the screening process, but are not required to do so. As of Wednesday, 7,643 of roughly 27,000 prison workers have undergone testing for COVID-19.

Data released Wednesday shows 227 workers were tested over the past week, with 156 of the workers testing positive for COVID-19. Five prisons — Dade Correctional Institution, Wakulla Correctional Institution, Santa Rosa Correctional Institution, South Florida Reception Center and Everglades Correctional Institution — each have at least 100 workers who have tested positive for the virus.

Department of Corrections spokeswoman Kayla McLaughlin declined to offer details on how the department is handling staffing at prisons with a large number of infected workers. The information is confidential and its release could jeopardize the security of inmates and officers, McLaughlin said.

“At this time, FDC has not experienced any degradation in security operations as a result of staff absences due to COVID-19,” she said.