COVID in state prisons: More than 15,000 inmates quarantined or in isolation; 34 dead

At Columbia Correctional Institution, a state prison in Lake City, three inmates have died, hundreds are infected and nearly 1,400 test results are pending. Credit: Florida Department of Corrections

More than 15,000 inmates in Florida’s prisons were in medical isolation or medical quarantine Wednesday after exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, or after known exposure to an infected person, according to the Florida Department of Corrections.

Thirty-four have died of the disease, the Corrections Department reports.

The prison report cites 4,179 positive tests among inmates, with 8,068 test results pending, but it does not report how widely the department is testing. Among employees, the prisons report 1,182 positive test results, with no information on fatalities, if any.

The state prison system incarcerates roughly 94,000 men and women in 143 prisons and employs about 24,000 people.

Columbia Correctional Institution (CI) in Lake City, reports the highest number of COVID-19 cases, according to the Florida Department of Corrections. There were 574 positive tests among inmates, with 1,399 results still pending Wednesday. The prison population was last reported at 2,281. Thirty-seven tests of employees were positive.

The Department of Health’s last report on inmates who died in prison says:

/Seven men died at Santa Rosa County’s Blackwater Correctional Facility, privately run by the GEO Group and the first to report inmate fatalities;

/Seven men died at South Florida Reception Center in Doral;

/Three men died at Columbia CI; three men at Everglades CI in Miami; three men at South Bay Correctional Facility in South Bay, run by the GEO Group; and three men at the multi-prison Sumter Correctional Institute in Sumter County;

/Two women died at Homestead CI in Florida City; two men at Dade CI;, and two men at Union CI in Raiford;

/One man died at Liberty CI in Bristol and one at New River CI, also in Raiford.

The prison system reports that prisons with nearly or more than 1,000 inmates in medical isolation and medical quarantine are Avon Park CI, Columbia CI, Santa Rosa CI, and Lowell CI in Ocala.