State releases locales of latest inmate deaths

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(NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA) — Two days after state officials reported three coronavirus-related inmate deaths, the Florida Department of Health on Wednesday identified the correctional facilities where the prisoners were located.

The health department said Everglades Correctional Institution, Liberty Correctional Institution and South Bay Correctional Facility each housed an inmate who died from complications of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus.

The South Bay prison is operated by The Geo Group Inc.

State officials have not released the names of the inmates, whose deaths were confirmed on Monday. It also is unknown if the prisoners died at the prisons or at hospitals. In total, 15 prisoners have died of complications related to COVID-19. Seven inmates housed at Blackwater River Correctional Facility, another prison operated by The Geo Group, have died of COVID-19. Three other inmates died at Sumter Correctional Institution. One inmate at Union Correctional Institution and another at Dade Correctional Institution also died after contracting the highly contagious virus.

The number of inmates who have tested positive for the virus continued to climb this week. As of Wednesday, 1,552 prisoners tested positive for COVID-19, according to corrections officials. The inmate cases are concentrated in a dozen facilities in various parts of the state, including women’s prisons in Gadsden County and Miami-Dade County.

Corrections and health officials conducted 14,763 tests on inmates as of Wednesday, according to the latest report. The total number of tests includes re-tests, making it unclear how many of the state’s roughly 94,000 inmates have been tested at least once.

Corrections officials also reported on Wednesday that 281 staff members have tested positive for the virus. The Department of Corrections does not report the number of staff members who have been tested for the virus.

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