Coronavirus cases spike across Florida’s criminal justice system

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Caseload mounts for prisons, law enforcement and juvenile justice workers.

The new coronavirus is continuing to infect police, prisoners and caseworkers throughout Florida, according to new data released by state agencies.

Monday saw another Florida Highway Patrol employee test positive for COVID-19, the respiratory condition caused by the coronavirus.

Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles spokesman Aaron Keller said the new case is in Palm Beach County. The employee is not a state trooper.

The positive is the fourth at FHP. Three state troopers had previously tested positive, one each in the Miami, Lake Worth and Panama City troops.

The same day, the Department of Juvenile Justice said 15 employees had tested positive for the disease, an increase of five over the weekend. A third of the cases are at Broward Regional Juvenile Detention Center.

There are now three employee cases at the Miami Youth Academy, where DJJ said four juveniles had tested positive last week. As of Monday, it is the only facility where youths have tested positive.

Other facilities where employees tested positive: Broward Youth Treatment Center, Daytona Juvenile Residential Facility, DOVE Academy, Miami-Dade Regional Juvenile Detention Center, Palm Beach Regional Juvenile Detention Center and Pinellas Regional Juvenile Detention Center.

The employee infections at FHP and DJJ come as the state prison system also grapples with a spike in cases among inmates and employees alike.

On Monday evening, Florida Department of Corrections data showed 119 prisoners and 84 employees had tested positive to date. The pandemic has now crept into more than 50 prisons across the state. The inmate caseload comes from just 378 tests, 99 of which are pending results.

Tomoka Correctional Institution in Daytona Beach saw a dramatic spike over the weekend, jumping from a handful of cases on Friday to 54 on Monday, including 47 inmates and 7 employees.

Tomoka has now surpassed Blackwater River Correctional Facility, a private prison in Milton, for the most cases at a DOC facility. As of Monday, Blackwater had 52 positives, 42 of them inmates. An outbreak is also underway at Sumter Correctional Institution in Bushnell, where 27 inmates and 4 employees have COVID-19.

The only other facility to hit double digits is South Bay Correctional Facility where one inmate and nine employees have tested positive.

DOC says more than 4,000 inmates are being quarantined due to close contact with a confirmed case. Another 99 are being held in medical isolation because of close contact with a confirmed case.

Statewide, more than 27,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 and more than 800 Floridians have died during the state’s novel coronavirus outbreak. The Florida Department of Health confirmed 744 new cases and 49 deaths due to complications from COVID-19 on Monday.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Orlando Rising and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.



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