'They just have no protection': COVID-19 cluster discovered at 2 Central Florida prisons, officials says

There are three major clusters of COVID-19 discovered inside Florida prisons. Two of them are in Central Florida.

The Florida Department of Corrections reports there are 24 inmates at Sumter Correctional Institution who have COVID-19.  Then, there are 47 inmates at Tomoka Correctional Institution who also have coronavirus.

“It’s a mother’s nightmare,” Karen Evans Roberts said. Her son is an inmate at Tomoka.  “It really is and you have absolutely no control. The masks don’t fit well if they have one. They’re not allowed to have sanitizer if they have it, stuff like that. They just have no protection.”

Evans Roberts speaks to her son every day on the phone about what’s happening inside.

“They moved a couple of the older guys out today and I hope it wasn’t because they are positive,” Evans Roberts said. “That kind of stuff is scary.”

The state prison has 1,200 inmates. About 1,100 of those are in quarantine.

“My husband, in himself, is asthmatic so he has one of the underlying conditions,” Venessa Grullon said.  Her husband is also an inmate at Tomoka. “He’s concerned. He’s worried. He tries to put up a front. He tries to be cheerful for me because he doesn’t want me to worry, me to stress out.”

She is also worried for her husband’s safety.

“You hear the news and stuff like that, the deaths and stuff like that,” Grullon said. “It’s just concerning. Basically, for him, it’s more susceptible.”

The family members are calling for the governor to release some inmates to reduce the amount of people inside prisons.

“It would just require the governor to do his John Hancock,” Grullon said. “I don’t think it’s too much to ask for the lives of our loved ones.”

The Department of Corrections also said in addition to the confirmed cases at Tomoka Correctional Institute, there are 48 inmates still waiting to get their tests back to see if they have COVID-19.


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