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Fla. county jail on lockdown after COVID outbreak

Currently, 26 inmates have tested positive; the facility is on lockdown until June 6


The entrance to the Pinellas County Jail complex.

Photo/Tampa Bay Times via MCT

By Natalie Weber
Tampa Bay Times

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — The Pinellas County Jail is on lockdown until June 6 after a COVID-19 outbreak, according to the sheriff’s office.

As of Friday, 26 inmates are COVID-positive, spokesperson Amanda Sinni said. The jail houses about 3,000 inmates. During lockdown, there is no movement in the jail unless someone is being released. While in person visits are currently suspended, inmates will still be able to use video visitation and remote visitation.

Cases are rising across Florida, with the highest number of cases since February reported last week. The state is on track to hit 6 million cases since the start of the pandemic.

People in prisons and jails are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus outbreaks. Jails have a high rate of turnover, as many people are booked after their arrests and bail out. Others who have not yet been convicted and are awaiting trial are held without bail or cannot afford to pay their bail. Inmates who have been convicted and are sentenced to less than a year of incarceration are also housed in jails.

The most recent outbreak in the Pinellas jail is not as widespread as other recent waves of coronavirus that have caused the facility to go into lockdown. In January, the jail went on lockdown after 74 inmates tested positive. A wave of COVID-19 cases also hit the jail in August as the delta variant swept the nation, and the jail went on lockdown after 90 inmates tested positive.

One inmate at the Hillsborough County jail is currently COVID-positive, according to the sheriff’s office there. The jail houses 2,515 inmates total.

Five of the 1,464 inmates at the Pasco County jail are currently positive for the virus, sheriff’s office spokesperson Amanda Hunter said on Friday.

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