JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A total of 141 Duval County inmates had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Friday, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office announced Saturday.
Of those cases, 70 were reported in a span of 24 hours.
According to the numbers released Saturday by the Sheriff’s Office, 2,668 tests had been completed, bringing the percentage of positive cases to 4.97%.
The Sheriff’s Office said all inmates in the three Department of Corrections facilities have been tested or have refused a test, and all new inmates will be tested as they come in.
Shortly before the Sheriff’s Office released the latest numbers, there was a rally Saturday afternoon in front of the Duval County jail. The Jacksonville Community Action Committee is demanding biweekly sanitation reports of what’s being done to stop the spread of the virus, regular testing for staff and inmates and the release of nonviolent offenders with compromised immune systems.
“This is not a hard ask. These people are confined in 8-by-10 cells with other people who are infected. Inmates and staff are not required to wear masks even though our tax dollars pay for those masks, and we still see rates of transmission rising,” said a Jacksonville Community Action Committee representative.
One woman said her son has been in an inmate in the jail since last year. She said they’ve been fighting to get him released, especially since the virus started spreading.
“I talked to my son yesterday, and he told me that there’s a lot of kids, juvenile kids are sick. They don’t have masks. When he calls me, (says) he has to cover up with his shirt,” the woman said.
Jacksonville city leaders said all 141 people who tested positive for COVID-19 inside Duval correctional facilities are in quarantine. It comes after demands made by protesters Saturday for sanitation reports and the release of nonviolent and immune-compromised inmates.
City council members told News4Jax the jail is doing its best to handle the cases despite the rising numbers.
City council member Matt Carrlucci said he agrees with investing in the city, but doesn’t want to put one group against the other.
“I’m going to make sure the sheriff gets the adequate funding he needs, but this year I want to make sure that we’re adequately funding prevention and intervention programs, because that’s where I think our funding is falling short,” Carrlucci said.
City council member Garrett Dennis released a statement, saying in part, “I do believe release for nonviolent offenders should be considered in the event they have been tested, and/or arrangements have been made to quarantine if necessary.”
Carrlucci told News4Jax that the JSO is working with the health department on keeping the facilities clean.
The state Department of Corrections reported Friday that the total number of inmate deaths in Florida’s prison system rose to 23.