COLUMBIA COUNTY, Fla. – A total of 1,299 inmates at Columbia Correctional Institute have tested positive for COVID-19 as of Thursday, according to data from the Florida Department of Corrections, and dozens of staff members have tested positive as well.
It’s the highest number of reported cases among inmates at a Florida prison. There are a total of 2,200 inmates at the facility, meaning roughly 58% of them have tested positive.
Cynthia Cooper is the wife of a prisoner at Columbia Correctional and says her husband is serving a lengthy sentence. News4Jax is withholding the prisoner’s identity for his safety.
Cooper said she feels the staff at the prison aren’t doing enough to curb the spread.
“My husband said, he said, and I quote, ‘It’s worse than a porta potty,‘” Cooper said. “He’s just trying his best because the only PPE gear they are offering is a mask.”
Compared to last Thursday, 973 inmates tested positive along with 43 staff members. Apart from the 1,299 inmates that have tested positive as of Thursday, 69 staff members have as well.
Secretary of Corrections Mark Inche addressed the cases, saying in a statement:
“The great majority of inmates at Columbia CI who have tested positive are showing mild or no symptoms of the virus. For those that do require an elevated level of medical care, our health care professionals continue to go above and beyond to provide outstanding medical attention.”
Four deaths have been reported of inmates, according to the DOC. No staff members have reportedly died.
The prison says it’s taking several new precautions to contain the spread of the virus like rigorous cleaning and health monitoring.