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Pinellas Jail extends COVID lockdown a second time

In-person visits and inmate groups are suspended until July 5. As of Wednesday, 29 inmates were testing positive for the coronavirus.
The Pinellas County Jail has extended its coronavirus lockdown through July 5.
The Pinellas County Jail has extended its coronavirus lockdown through July 5.
Published Jun. 16

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is extending its COVID lockdown at the county jail until July 5.

The lockdown began in late May and was initially scheduled to end on June 6. With the most recent announcement, it has now been extended twice, as coronavirus cases across Florida continue to rise.

Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Sgt. Amanda Sinni said on Wednesday that there were 29 COVID-positive inmates in the jail. That number is down from the 40 inmates who tested positive when the lockdown was extended earlier this month. As of Wednesday, the jail was housing 2,837 inmates, Sinni said.

In-person professional visits have been suspended during the lockdown, along with inmate groups and classes. According to the COVID Prison Project, which tracks cases across all 50 states, nearly 600,000 inmates have tested positive for the virus.

Previous lockdowns in the jail have seen cases climb as high as 90 COVID-positive inmates last August. The jail also went on lockdown in January when 74 inmates tested positive.

People in jails and prisons are particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus, given the lack of opportunities for social distancing within the institutions, as well as a cycle of people entering and leaving the facilities.

Of the 2,662 inmates housed in the Hillsborough County Jail, 29 inmates are COVID-positive, spokesperson Amanda Granit said. However, the jail is not on lock down. Six of the 1,543 inmates housed at the Pasco County Jail have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to Pasco Sheriff’s spokesperson Amanda Hunter.

The most recent statewide coronavirus data, for the week of June 4 to June 10, shows that Florida had a positivity rate of 21.4 percent, with a 19.6 percent positivity rate in Pinellas County. The state added more than 74,000 cases that week.

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