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Virus hits state prisons chief, top aide

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Virus hits state prisons chief, top aide

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – As COVID-19 spreads throughout the state’s prison system, Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Mark Inch and one of his top lieutenants have tested positive for the virus, the state agency announced late Friday night.

Inch began experiencing mild symptoms shortly after visiting Columbia Correctional Institution, a North Florida prison where 1,300 inmates and 72 corrections workers have tested positive for the virus, according to a press release issued by corrections officials Friday. Deputy Secretary Ricky Dixon has also tested positive for COVID-19, but is currently asymptomatic, the release said.

“Just like the numerous correctional and probation officers and staff who we’ve asked to stay home and recuperate after a positive test, Deputy Secretary Dixon and I are self-isolating as a result of our recent COVID-19 test results,” Inch said in a statement Friday night.

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Inch is the highest-ranking state official known to have tested positive for the virus since the first COVID-19 case was reported in Florida on March 1. The secretary and department officials have visited numerous correctional facilities and probation offices “to provide support” over the course of the pandemic, according to Friday’s update.

Department officials said Inch began experiencing symptoms 24 hours after he returned from a statewide conference and a visit to Columbia Correctional Institution in Lake City.

The department did not disclose the name or location of the statewide conference, or whether Inch came into close contact with inmates or workers who had tested positive for COVID-19 during his visit to the Lake City prison. The agency did […]

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