ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The Orange County jail is seeing an outbreak of COVID-19 cases.
There are 83 inmates who have tested positive for the virus, as of Thursday, according to Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings.
“Out of the 83 who have tested positive, 68 of the inmates are asymptomatic, 15 are symptomatic. No inmates are requiring hospitalization,” Demings said during a news briefing Thursday afternoon.
Demings said all of the inmates are being kept away from the general population and are being monitored. Fifteen staff members have also tested positive, according to the mayor.
“We offer free testing to all inmates. Since the pandemic began we have administered nearly 8,700 tests with 260 test results pending,” Deming said. “Since the first known case at the jail in June of 2020, the positivity rate of those tested is 3.9%.”
The mayor said there is also a plan in place to vaccinate inmates who are 65 and older, “once we get available faster supply.”
Dr. Raul Pino from the Florida Department of Health in Orange County praised the work being done at the jail to keep inmates safe from infection.
“The surprise about this is not that we have an outbreak, is that we didn’t have that many outbreaks,” Pino said, referring to jails as a “petri dish” for infectious diseases. “Really our county jail has done a magnificent job, and the county, the county health systems as well, in trying to contain the pandemic. I’m pretty sure they will contain this outbreak.”
No inmates have died as a result of the coronavirus, according to Demings.
The jail released a statement to News 6 about the outbreak:
“The Orange County Jail has seen a recent increase in inmate COVID-19 cases. To address the issue, our response protocols remain in place, and affected inmates have been isolated and continue to be monitored by Corrections Health Services. No inmates require hospitalization. As a precautionary measure, inmate movement and visitor access have been restricted, and all inmate programs suspended until further notice. All affected inmate workers have been replaced. The kitchen operation will continue to provide meals to the inmate population with an alternative workforce. Increased sanitation protocols had already been in place and will remain in place. The safety and well-being of our inmates and staff remain a top priority.”
The jail also pointed out in an email that the state defines an outbreak at a correctional facility as: “Two or more COVID-19 cases among individuals with onset dates or specimen collection dates within a 14-day period who are epidemiologically linked and were not identified as close contacts of each other in another setting during standard case investigation or contact tracing.”