Prison inmate Compared to the general population, inmates in Miami-Dade County are contracting the disease at an alarming rate.
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Of the 1,166 inmates tested so far, 481 –or 41 percent– have tested positive for the illness in one of South Florida’s hot zones for the virus.

Miami-Dade County jail inmates have become infected with the novel coronavirus at an alarming rate, according to statistics released Tuesday by the South Florida county’s corrections department.

According to the memo, of the 1,166 inmates tested so far, 481 — or 41 percent — have tested positive for the illness that so far has claimed 2,052 lives throughout the state.

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By comparison, just above 11 percent of those tested for COVID-19 in Miami-Dade County, one of three counties considered the epicenter of the pandemic in the state, have tested positive for COVID-19. The other two “hot zones” are Broward and Palm Beach counties.

During the meeting, the head of the jail system’s medical services told commissioners that 10 inmates have been hospitalized and one has died from the virus.

A Vulnerable Population at Risk

Across Florida, more than 1,100 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19, and 10 have died from the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. 

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Housed together in often cramped quarters, with scant cleaning supplies and very low possibilities of practicing social distancing measures, inmates in jails and prisons are vulnerable to contracting and spreading the virus.

But despite Corrections Director Daniel Junior’s assurance that MDCR provides bars of soap to each inmate, and social distancing measures have been taken, such as only allowing four people to sit at common-area tables, conditions at the Metro West Detention Center led a group of community organizations, among them the Dream Defenders, Community Justice Project, and Advancement Project National Office, to file a suit on behalf of a group of inmates seeking to “immediately reduce the number of people trapped in cages… in conditions in which social distancing is not possible,” according to their statement on Tuesday.

The group spoke on behalf of people who are not extremely violent offenders but are jailed for non-violent offenses such as traffic cases.

Still, Corrections Director Junior told commissioners that he would “definitely not recommend” the release of thousands of felons “given these economic times.”

According to the Herald, approximately 4,000 inmates were held in Miami-Dade jails before the pandemic. Due to the efforts of lawyers and judges, at this time they number about 3,200.