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Pinellas County jail on lockdown after COVID outbreak

Currently, 26 inmates have tested positive for the virus. The facility is on lockdown until June 6.
The entrance to the Pinellas County Jail complex in Clearwater, which is on lockdown until June 6 due to a coronavirus outbreak.
The entrance to the Pinellas County Jail complex in Clearwater, which is on lockdown until June 6 due to a coronavirus outbreak. [ Times ]
Published May 20|Updated May 21

The Pinellas County Jail is on lockdown until June 6 after a COVID-19 outbreak, according to the sheriff’s office.

As of Friday, 26 inmates are COVID-positive, spokesperson Amanda Sinni said. The jail houses about 3,000 inmates. During lockdown, there is no movement in the jail unless someone is being released. While in person visits are currently suspended, inmates will still be able to use video visitation and remote visitation.

Cases are rising across Florida, with the highest number of cases since February reported last week. The state is on track to hit 6 million cases since the start of the pandemic.

Related: Florida COVID cases jump 53%. Tampa Bay transmission levels rise.

People in prisons and jails are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus outbreaks. Jails have a high rate of turnover, as many people are booked after their arrests and bail out. Others who have not yet been convicted and are awaiting trial are held without bail or cannot afford to pay their bail. Inmates who have been convicted and are sentenced to less than a year of incarceration are also housed in jails.

The most recent outbreak in the Pinellas jail is not as widespread as other recent waves of coronavirus that have caused the facility to go into lockdown. In January, the jail went on lockdown after 74 inmates tested positive. A wave of COVID-19 cases also hit the jail in August as the delta variant swept the nation, and the jail went on lockdown after 90 inmates tested positive.

One inmate at the Hillsborough County jail is currently COVID-positive, according to the sheriff’s office there. The jail houses 2,515 inmates total.

Five of the 1,464 inmates at the Pasco County jail are currently positive for the virus, sheriff’s office spokesperson Amanda Hunter said on Friday.

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How to get tested

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.

• • •

How to get vaccinated

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.

TTY: 888-720-7489

Disability Information and Access Line: Call 888-677-1199 or email DIAL@n4a.org.

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• • •

More coronavirus coverage

OMICRON VARIANT: Omicron changed what we know about COVID. Here’s the latest on how the infectious COVID-19 variant affects masks, vaccines, boosters and quarantining.

KIDS AND VACCINES: Got questions about vaccinating your kid? Here are some answers.

BOOSTER SHOTS: Confused about which COVID booster to get? This guide will help.

BOOSTER QUESTIONS: Are there side effects? Why do I need it? Here’s the answers to your questions.

PROTECTING SENIORS: Here’s how seniors can stay safe from the virus.

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