Hamilton Correctional Institution has become a hot spot for covid-19, with that facility alone accounting for more than 13 percent of all reported cases among state prisoners in Florida.
A combined total of 843 state prisoners had tested positive for the virus as of noon Wednesday, and 112 of those were from HCI, according to the Florida Department of Corrections, which is ramping up testing for inmates.
Two HCI staffers were also confirmed to have covid-19.
A total of 410 HCI inmates tested negative for the virus, and 490 were still pending.
In addition to the confirmed cases, 489 more HCI inmates were under medical quarantine and one was under medical isolation.
Columbia Correctional Institution had 25 confirmed cases involving prisoners and one involving an employee. Forty-nine CCI inmates tested negative and no results were pending.
Thirty-five CCI inmates were under medical quarantine and none were under medical isolation.
Only one inmate was tested at Lake City Correctional Facility, which is operated by the private company CoreCivic. That prisoner tested negative.
One LCCF staffer tested positive, however.
Suwannee Correctional Institution had also only tested a single inmate, with the results also negative. One SCI staffer tested positive.
Clusters of cases at prisons throughout the state surfaced after the Florida Department of Corrections and health officials recently began mass testing of inmates at facilities with existing cases of covid-19.
As of Wednesday, 6,392 tests on inmates were performed, a boost of more than 5,600 tests in just one week. The test results revealed outbreaks in several prisons and nearly doubled the number of inmates who tested positive for the virus.
“Testing is being expanded at institutions with known positive COVID-19 cases in order for FDC to focus medical personnel and services to inmates with the greatest need,” the Department of Corrections said in a prepared statement provided to The News Service of Florida.
The ramp-up in testing comes amid outbreaks at prisons located in Columbia, Hamilton, Volusia, Jackson, Liberty, Sumter, Palm Beach, Santa Rosa and Miami-Dade counties.
Aware of the threats the coronavirus pandemic poses to the state’s prison system, some facilities with outbreaks have established extra protections for correctional officers and inmates, including a push to test more asymptomatic individuals and to check the temperatures of all inmates.
Some prisons have begun forcing both staff and inmates to wear facial protection.
Corrections officials are also taking other measures aimed at preventing the spread of the virus, such as suspending inmate transfers and placing additional restrictions on internal prisoner movement.