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Three inmates at state prisons in Marion County die due to COVID-19, former inmate reacts

Published: Jul. 30, 2020 at 5:24 PM EDT
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MARION COUNTY, Fla. (WCJB) - A COVID-19 outbreak at the women’s prison in Marion County has taken a fatal turn.

Over 600 women at the Lowell Correctional Institute have contracted COVID-19, this has some former inmates speaking out.

According to the Florida Department of Corrections website, 629 women at Lowell have the virus. This has prompted the non-profit Change Comes Now to donate personal hygiene products, cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment to the staff and women at Lowell.

They have purchased 6,000 rolls of toilet paper, 3,000 bars of Dial antibacterial soap, 100 gallons of bleach for dorms, 20 gallons of hand sanitizer for staff, two cases of gloves, five 50 inch non-smart TV’s for the dorms that have no working TV, and 10 Digital TV converter boxes.

Over 600 women at the Lowell Correctional Institute have contracted COVID-19, this has some former inmates speaking out.
Over 600 women at the Lowell Correctional Institute have contracted COVID-19, this has some former inmates speaking out.(WCJB)

“We have been collecting donations from formerly incarnated women that were in Florida State. We have to keep the staff covered and protected and safe so that the women can stay protected and safe,” Change Comes Now Executive Director, Debra Bennett said.

F
DC officials tell TV20 that all staff and inmates are required to wear cloth face coverings, as well as if an inmate does come into contact with someone displaying symptoms or who has tested positive, they are placed in medical quarantine.

The Florida Department of Corrections addresses COVID-19 outbreaks in several  prisons
The Florida Department of Corrections addresses COVID-19 outbreaks in several prisons(WCJB)

Screening requirements are also in place at every Florida correctional institution, officials said. Anyone, including staff, entering a correctional institution is screened prior to entry and will be denied entry if they:

• Have traveled internationally or to an area with substantial community spread within the last 14 days.

• Have signs or symptoms of a respiratory infection such as fever (99.6 degrees or higher), cough or shortness of breath.

• Have had contact with someone who has COVID-19 or is suspected positive for COVID-19.

• If a corrections officer or other institution staff member or contractor fails screening, they will be denied access to the correctional institution and will be required to have documentation from a medical professional that they are cleared to return to work. Their medical professional would determine if testing is required.

But even with several different mitigation practices in place, two Lowell inmates and one woman at the Florida Women’s Reception Center have died due to COVID-19 complications.

“We’ve lost three women so far and we can’t bring them back. One woman I was very close with. She was 75-years-old but her nickname was Speedy, we called her Speedy because she was so full of energy, she was so full of life she was like everybody’s grandmother and she moved faster than us. She was amazing and she’s deceased now because she had Coronavirus and she got COVID pneumonia,” Bennett said.

There have been no deaths reported at Marion Correctional Institute. Only four inmates at the men’s prison in Marion County have tested positive for the virus.

A
lso in north central Florida, Columbia Correctional Institution has over 12-hundred positive cases, that’s more than half of the inmate population.

Copyright 2020 WCJB. All rights reserved.

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