State health officials say nearly 800 Tennesseans have tested positive for the coronavirus, and about 350 are inmates at the Northwest Correctional Complex in West Tennessee. That brings the total number of cases at the prison to more than 700.
Nearly all of the inmates who tested positive during statewide mass testing at prisons in April had since recovered.
But last week, multiple inmates in different parts of the facility got sick. So, the state decided to retest all prisoners and employees who originally tested negative.
Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey says officials will retest inmates whenever they notice “community transmission” within a prison. That means multiple unrelated cases, with no known source of the virus.
More than 2,600 Tennessee prisoners have tested positive for the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic. At one private prison, Trousdale Turner Correctional Center, about half of its 2,400 inmates tested positive.
The state-run Bledsoe County Correctional Complex also became a major hotspot, with about 600 cases. A WPLN News investigation found that inmates who tested negative were locked in cells with inmates who tested positive, if their roommates weren’t showing symptoms.