Rising coronavirus cases in Marion County attributed to jail facilities

Thousands of pending test results will likely drive up case count

Lowell Correctional Institution in Ocala. (Image: Florida DOC) (WKMG 2020)

OCALA, Fla. – For the past 20 days Marion County has reported an average of 138 new coronavirus cases per day, however, on Monday the county saw a record 347 new positive tests alone but local health officials say a majority of those new cases are tied to inmates at jail facilities.

On Monday, the Department of Health-Marion County said in a news release of the nearly 350 new positive cases, 202 were from correctional facilities.

There have been a combined 628 COVID-19 cases at three facilities in Marion as of Tuesday afternoon: 183 at the Florida Women’s Reception Center, 444 at Lowell Correctional Institution and one positive case at Marion Correctional Institution, according to the Florida Department of Corrections.

Those numbers are likely to continue to grow as there are thousands of pending test results, including nearly 530 at FWRC and almost 1,300 at Lowell Correctional, according to the Department of Corrections database tracking infections across the state.

Additionally, 952 inmates at Lowell Correctional, 577 at FWRC and 122 at Marion Correctional are under medical quarantine.

Staff members at all three facilities have tested positive as well, including 20 at Lowell, 22 at FWRC and 5 at Marion Correctional.

According to the DOC, all inmates and staff are required to wear cloth face coverings and correctional officers have access to gloves. For staff treating inmates, surgical-grade masks, eye protection and Tyvek suits are available, according to the DOC.

As of Tuesday, 3,228 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Marion County since March, including 51 who have died as a result of the virus. None of the deaths have been connected to the correctional facilities, according to the Department of Health.