Posted June 7

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has extended the county jail’s lockdown due to an ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

The lockdown began in May and was supposed to end June 6, but the sheriff’s office extended it to June 20. As of Tuesday, 40 inmates tested positive for COVID, according to the sheriff’s office.

“We go two weeks at a time and assess cases,” spokeswoman Amanda Sinni said.

The prison closed periodically during the pandemic as cases rose among its roughly 3,000 inmates. Last August, 90 inmates were infected as the delta variant spread across the country. Months later, 74 inmates tested positive in January, prompting another lockdown.

People in jails and prisons are more vulnerable to coronavirus outbreaks due to overcrowding and daily movement inside facilities. More than 500,000 people incarcerated in US prisons have tested positive for coronavirus, according to The COVID Prison Project, which tracks data from all 50 states. By Tuesday, nearly 2,900 prisoners had died.

The sheriff’s office has implemented containment to reduce the spread of the virus. Inmate programs, group classes and professional visits have been canceled and lawyers can no longer meet their clients in person at the prison, Sinni said in an email. COVID-positive inmates are quarantined for at least five days in designated accommodations.

Last week, Florida reported more than 71,000 new coronavirus cases, with hospitalizations rising statewide. According to a state audit, the Florida Department of Health has been underreporting COVID deaths and cases throughout the pandemic.

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How to get tested

Tampa Bay: The Times can help you find free public COVID-19 testing sites in the Bay Area.

Florida: The Ministry of Health has a website which lists the test sites in the state. Some information may be out of date.

United States: The Department of Health and Social Services has a website who can help you find a test site.

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How to get vaccinated

The COVID-19 vaccine for ages 5 and older and boosters for eligible recipients are being administered at doctor’s offices, clinics, pharmacies, grocery stores and public vaccination sites. Many allow you to book appointments online. Here’s how to find a site near you:

Find a site: Visit vaccines.gov to find vaccination sites in your postal code.

More help: Call the National COVID-19 Immunization Hotline.

Call: 800-232-0233. Help is available in English, Spanish, and other languages.

TTY: 888-720-7489

Disability Access and Information Line: Call 888-677-1199 or email [email protected]

• • •

OMICRON VARIANT: Omicron has changed what we know about COVID. Here’s the latest on how the infectious variant of COVID-19 is affecting masks, vaccines, recalls and quarantine.

CHILDREN AND VACCINES: Do you have questions about your child’s vaccination? Here are some answers.

REMINDER SHOTS: Not sure which COVID reminder to get? This guide will help you.

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