The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has extended the county jail’s lockdown because of an ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
The lockdown began in May and was scheduled to end June 6, but the sheriff’s office extended it to June 20. As of Tuesday, 40 inmates were COVID-positive, according to the sheriff’s office.
“We go two weeks at a time and evaluate as far as cases go,” spokesperson Amanda Sinni said.
The jail has locked down periodically during the pandemic as cases spiked among its some 3,000 inmates. Last August, 90 inmates were infected as the delta variant spread across the country. Months later, 74 inmates tested positive in January, prompting another lockdown.
People in jails and prisons are more vulnerable to coronavirus outbreaks because of crowding and daily movement inside facilities. More than 500,000 people incarcerated in U.S. prisons have tested positive for coronavirus, according to The COVID Prison Project, which tracks data from all 50 states. As of Tuesday, nearly 2,900 prisoners had died.
The sheriff’s office implemented the lockdown to reduce the spread of the virus. Inmate programs, group classes and professional visits have been canceled and attorneys can no longer meet with their clients in person at the jail, Sinni said in an email. Inmates who are COVID-positive are quarantined for a minimum of five days in designated housing.
Last week, Florida reported more than 71,000 new coronavirus cases, with an increase in hospitalizations around the state. According to a state audit, Florida’s health department has undercounted COVID deaths and cases throughout the pandemic.
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Tampa Bay: The Times can help you find the free, public COVID-19 testing sites in the bay area.
Florida: The Department of Health has a website that lists testing sites in the state. Some information may be out of date.
The U.S.: The Department of Health and Human Services has a website that can help you find a testing site.
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The COVID-19 vaccine for ages 5 and up and booster shots for eligible recipients are being administered at doctors’ offices, clinics, pharmacies, grocery stores and public vaccination sites. Many allow appointments to be booked online. Here’s how to find a site near you:
Find a site: Visit vaccines.gov to find vaccination sites in your ZIP code.
More help: Call the National COVID-19 Vaccination Assistance Hotline.
Phone: 800-232-0233. Help is available in English, Spanish and other languages.
Disability Information and Access Line: Call 888-677-1199 or email DIAL@n4a.org.
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