COVID-19 cases are soaring among Florida's prison workers

In addition to worker cases, the department on Friday reported that 2,497 inmates had tested positive for the virus.

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COVID-19 cases are soaring among Florida's prison workers
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The number of Florida correctional workers who had tested positive for COVID-19 climbed to 754 on Friday, according to data released by the state Department of Corrections.

The data showed an additional 132 correctional workers had tested positive for the disease since Monday. While workers at dozens of prisons have been diagnosed with COVID-19, a handful of prisons are experiencing a spike in cases among employees.

For example, Dade Correctional Institution and South Florida Reception Center each had 84 worker cases as of Friday; South Bay Correctional Facility had 66; Homestead Correctional Institution had 39; and Everglades Correctional Institution had 35.

Corrections officials maintain no department employees have died from complications of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus. But two employees of contractors who work with the department have died following positive COVID-19 test results, department spokeswoman Michelle Glady confirmed to The News Service of Florida last week.

As COVID-19 continues to spread in the prison system, the pandemic is exacerbating low staffing levels at prisons, according to Florida Police Benevolent Association Executive Director Matt Puckett.

In late June, the department reported 2,134 vacancies across the state. The number does not account for officers who are out on sick leave during the pandemic, Puckett said. 

In addition to worker cases, the department on Friday reported that 2,497 inmates had tested positive for the virus. Twenty-nine inmates had died from complications of COVID-19 as of Friday, an uptick from 25 reported inmate deaths on Monday.

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