Florida prison system to get masks amid COVID-19 outbreak

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (The News Service of Florida) — The Florida Department of Corrections is expected to get an influx of 1 million face masks by the end of the week, state Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz said at a news conference Wednesday.

Face masks have been in high demand in the prison system, with 174 corrections workers and 390 inmates testing positive for COVID-19 as of Wednesday morning. Corrections Secretary Mark Inch issued a statement on April 11 that said correctional officers, probation officers and staff in high-risk geographic areas of the state would be the first to receive face masks, followed by institutions that have large at-risk inmate populations.

Since the statement was issued, numerous Florida prisons have had COVID-19 outbreaks, and the demand for face coverings has continued to tick up.

“By the end of this week we will have sent a million masks to the Department of Corrections, which obviously is extremely important,” Moskowitz told reporters Wednesday. “We are happy to partner with Secretary Inch to make sure he has the supplies that he needs.”

Staff members and inmates at certain facilities have been required to wear cloth face masks as a result of inmates testing positive for the virus. Staff members have had the option of using face masks they bring from home, cloth masks made by inmates or surgical-grade masks that the department has been able to provide.

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