COVID-19 not in every Florida prison, but cases growing

37 staffers and four prisoners have been infected.

Correction: COVID-19 isn’t in every prison, despite what stats provided by the Department of Corrections suggested. It’s in an ever-growing list of them though.

The Florida Department of Corrections put on a brave face regarding coronavirus, but the plague has overwhelmed even its stringent visitation policies.

Statistics released Tuesday morning suggested that COVID-19 has surfaced among inmates and staff at an ever growing list of prisons in the state.

However, a correction. It’s not every prison, even as the DOC’s own webpage suggested otherwise.

“Your story incorrectly stated CV-19 was in “every prison in the state.” This is absolutely not the case. FDC has 50 major institutions, 17 annexes and seven private facilities. Most facilities do not have a confirmed staff case, and no state run facilities have a confirmed inmate at this time,” asserted DOC spokesperson Michelle Glady.

Only one group of inmates, four at Milton’s Blackwater River Correctional Institution, have tested positive thus far. It’s reasonable to assume those cases are not travel-related.

Five staffers have tested positive, the second highest incidence rate in the system. Apalachee CI, in Sneads, leads all facilities with seven infected employees.

When asked if those two coronavirus clusters were evidence of community spread, Glady referred us to the Department of Health.

Zephyrhills has three infected staffers, and other facilities in the system have just one or two, adding up to 37 system wide. The full list is below.

However, the smart money is for numbers everywhere to go up.

As of Mar. 28, for context, just seven staffers and no inmates were infected, as the News Service of Florida noted.

Gov. Ron DeSantis resisted calls to release medically compromised inmates, saying in a press availability last week that he was concerned about “society fraying” and whether inmate release was conducive to “social distancing.”

Prisoners, of course, are not afforded many avenues to socially distance themselves. Tight budgets lead to cramped quarters, and with a disease like this strain of the coronavirus, that is a recipe for contagion.

Releasing felons wouldn’t “make things any better,” DeSantis said. But Democrats and activists, seemingly to no avail, attempted to convince the Governor otherwise.

Congresswoman Kathy Castor urged “DeSantis and FDOC to implement a plan to keep people safe before the spread of COVID-19 becomes worse in our prison system.”

“There is no time to waste,” Castor asserted, “and I call on the Governor to move decisively to safeguard both the health of correctional officers and inmates.”

However, such a move was not forthcoming. And now the die is cast for Florida’s 96,000 inmates, many of whom are in poor health and lack the recourse to “flatten the curve.”

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • Sonja Fitch

    April 7, 2020 at 6:45 pm

    Omg the blood on desantis and republicans is smothering any thing good and decent told you they were nazis

  • Nina

    April 7, 2020 at 9:01 pm

    Of course no inmates have tested positive! Because fdoc is not testing them. The government can’t even get enough tests for everyone outside. So no inmates are positive is basically subterfuge as they know it’s very likely inmates are positive but they will not be tested. Subterfuge is basically a lie. I praise the private run prisons for at least admitting to a few cases. Fdoc must think families with loved ones incarcerated are stupid. I think not! Ask incarcerated from low level to those charged with the most gruesome crimes are still human and it is the job of fdoc ands the governor to protect them just like it’s citizens not incarcerated.

    • Carol

      April 19, 2020 at 2:56 pm

      So true. Why does Blackwater River have so many compared to other prisons. It’s because the medical staff there suck. One was threatened if he went to medical he would get. DR and be sent to the box. 4 dead and how have died at other prisons. Tomoka just moved a lot of the ones who has no symptoms to Lake City where they report no cases why can’t Blackwater do the same thing send them where there are no cases.

  • Jess

    April 8, 2020 at 5:52 pm

    I know someone just released from Blackwater River Correctional Facility they were sick when they left with flu like symptoms. They did not test him. I was exposed to him. Along with everyone else he has been in contact with.

Comments are closed.


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