Seven Florida Department of Corrections employees who work at different facilities have tested positive for COVID-19, agency officials announced late Friday.
The officials would not release the positions held by the infected prison workers, but said in a statement that the employees worked for either the corrections department or one of its contractors at five prisons and two probation offices.
The employees work at Century Correctional Institute in Escambia County; Everglades Correctional Institution in Miami-Dade County; Florida Women’s Reception Center and Marion Correctional Institution, both in Ocala; Zephyrhills Correctional Institution in Pasco County; and community corrections regional offices in Lake Butler and West Palm Beach.
They will not return to work until they have been cleared by health officials, according to the agency.
An investigation is now underway to identify inmates and staff who may need to go into isolation after coming into close contact with the infected employees, officials added.
Inmate release dates have not been impacted by the ongoing public health emergency. Inmates in FDC custody will be released in accordance with their court-ordered sentence. pic.twitter.com/lKRNAtL1C8
— Florida Department of Corrections (@FL_Corrections) March 26, 2020
There are no confirmed coronavirus cases within the inmate population as of 9 a.m. Friday.
However, corrections officials say they are working closely with the Florida Department of Health to monitor and contain potential outbreaks in the prison system, which has 143 facilities, more than 23,000 employees and nearly 96,000 inmates.
In an effort to prevent the virus from spreading, the department has suspended face-to-face inmate visitations, restricted the intake of county jail inmates and began screening anyone who enters a correctional institution.