Gov. Ron DeSantis says prisons are second to nursing homes in receiving COVID-19 resources

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13,763 state prison inmates and 2,147 state correctional workers have tested positive for COVID-19.

Gov. Ron DeSantis described Florida’s prison system Wednesday as the second priority on the state’s COVID-19 triage list.

Speaking to reporters from inside the state Capitol, he recognized the state’s tedious battle to prevent the virus from thriving in state correctional facilities.

“We’ve dedicated a lot of testing resources to the prisons and probably have tested, not quite as robust as the nursing homes, but I mean nursing homes have been the most robust target for us in terms of testing,” DeSantis said. “I would say probably the prisons have been second in terms of the amount of resources that have been done. We’ve gone through pretty much all the facilities.”

But while working to keep the virus on the outside of prison walls is one aspect, DeSantis acknowledged that containing a virus that already exists within a facility is another. Similar to nursing homes, prison systems are inherently vulnerable to COVID-19 by demographic and design.

“When you’re talking about a prison, they are a much more challenging situation in terms of finding alternative facilities,” he said. “They have isolated within the existing framework that we have and we’ve obviously encouraged them to do it.”

According to the Florida Department of Corrections, 13,763 state prison inmates and 2,147 state correctional workers have tested positive for COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic. In that time, 73 inmates have also died with the virus.

In one particular facility, the Suwannee Correctional Institution, 721 of the 1,950 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19. In a news release, department officials said the “great majority” of inmates at the institution who tested positive for the virus presented mild or no symptoms when they were tested.

FDC is Florida’s largest state agency. The department employs 24,000 members, incarcerates about 90,000 inmates and supervises nearly 155,000 offenders in the community.

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the Florida State Capitol. After a go with the U.S. Army, the Orlando-native attended the University of Central Florida and earned a degree in American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. He'd love to hear from you. You can reach Jason by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter at @byJasonDelgado.


  • Edward Freeman

    August 13, 2020 at 3:13 pm

    Here is an idea that would actually save money, reduce the virus load substantially in Florida’s prisons and be more humane. Release all those being held captive who pose to harm to others. All those serving sentences for drugs, driving without a license, probation violations, getting behind on their child support and others such nonsense crimes should be immediately released.

  • Sol Weiss

    August 13, 2020 at 4:17 pm

    They should be second in line.

    Those who are incarcerated received trials or pled to their offenses, and are now recognizing the results of their offense. Their discomfort or fear of contracting an illness is turning out to be part of the consequences they chose for themselves by their action(s). That could not have been predicted at the time of sentencing. However, they willingly committed the offense; they had a choice.

    It really is not so complicated.

Comments are closed.


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