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Prison Has Record COVID Deaths in Florida Corrections System

The total number of inmates who have died of the highly contagious respiratory disease rose from 46 to 49 overnight, according to Department of Corrections data. Two of the new deaths announced were inmates at the South Florida Reception Center.

by Samantha J. Gross, Miami Herald / July 30, 2020
TNS

(TNS) -- A South Florida prison Thursday emerged as the deadliest COVID-19 facility in the state’s prison system.

The state reported nine COVID-19 deaths among inmates at the South Florida Reception Center, a mixed youth and adult men’s facility in Doral, near Miami.

The total number of inmates who have died of the highly contagious respiratory disease rose from 46 to 49 overnight, according to Department of Corrections data. Two of the new deaths announced were inmates at the South Florida Reception Center.

The South Florida prison, which holds 1,100 inmates, has 132 infected inmates. By that count, 7% of those infected with COVID-19 have died. The facility’s death toll has surpassed Blackwater Correctional Facility near Pensacola, which has reported seven COVID-19 related deaths.

South Florida Reception Center hasn’t been kind to employees either. At 124 infections, the facility has the second-highest number of infected staff.

July has been the deadliest month when it comes to COVID-19 deaths in prison. Twenty-five inmates died over the course of the month, compared to nine in June.

As of mid-Thursday, a total of 9,501 prisoners and corrections workers had tested positive for the disease, a jump from 9,155 cases reported on Tuesday.

As the case count and deaths continue to mount, inmates’ families and advocates have wondered if the department has an alternate plan to prevent and treat COVID-19.

Department of Corrections spokesman Rob Klepper said in a statement to the Miami Herald this week that the department is “closely aligned” with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for prisons, and that the department’s managed-care contractor, Centurion, has brought in additional staff to hard-hit prisons to provide additional testing and resources.

“The level of care and attention they have provided to the inmate population has been outstanding,” Klepper wrote, despite years of complaints about the quality of prison healthcare.

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©2020 Miami Herald

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