Support local journalism. Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Worker at Florida juvenile facility tests positive for coronavirus

Posted By on Sun, Mar 29, 2020 at 12:55 PM

click to enlarge broward-youth.jpg
A worker at a South Florida juvenile-justice facility has tested positive for COVID-19, while the number of cases statewide has topped 4,200, officials announced Sunday morning.

The employee of the Broward Youth Treatment Center was confirmed Friday as having the highly contagious disease. The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice did not specify the employee’s job duties or details such as the employee’s age or gender.

A news release from the department said the employee has been off work for five days and will not return “until a full recovery is documented by a medical professional. DJJ is working closely with the local county health department to determine next steps for screening staff and the youth at the program.”

The announcement came a short time before the Florida Department of Health updated figures showing that 4,246 cases had been confirmed statewide of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus. The disease has killed 56 Florida residents.

Broward County, the site of the juvenile facility where the worker tested positive, had 838 cases as of Sunday morning, second only to neighboring Miami-Dade County, which had 1,192 cases, according to the Department of Health.
The announcement of the positive case at the juvenile facility also came after the Florida Department of Corrections said late Friday that seven employees at prisons and corrections offices throughout the state had confirmed cases of COVID-19. Those employees work at Century Correctional Institution in Escambia County; Everglades Correctional Institution in Miami-Dade County; Florida Women’s Reception Center and Marion Correctional Institution, both in Marion County; Zephyrhills Correctional Institution in Pasco County; and community corrections regional offices in Union County and Palm Beach County.

The Broward Youth Treatment Center has 27 youths in its program, and parents and guardians have been notified about the employee testing positive, the Department of Juvenile Justice said. All of the youths and other staff members were asymptomatic as of Sunday morning, and additional teens are not being admitted to the program.

The Pembroke Pines facility, in part, provides substance-abuse and mental-health treatment services to boys ages 13 to 18. The facility is operated by a contractor, Youth Opportunity, which also runs other juvenile-justice facilities in the state, according to information on the Youth Opportunity website.

Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Simone Marstiller issued an emergency order March 19 that suspended all visitation at juvenile facilities until at least April 15. At the time, the department said it did not have any known or suspected cases of COVID-19.

“This is a measure we do not take lightly, but we find it necessary to restrict the movement of individuals into our facilities to prioritize the health of youth in our custody, in addition to our agency and contracted provider staff,” Marstiller said in statement after issuing the emergency order. “We will work diligently to maintain regular communication between youth and their families.”

Please follow CDC guidelines and Orange County advisories to stay safe, and please support this free publication. Our small but mighty team is working tirelessly to bring you news on how coronavirus is affecting Central Florida. Please consider making a one-time or monthly donation. Every little bit helps.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Read the Digital Print Issue

November 24, 2021

View more issues


© 2021 Orlando Weekly

Website powered by Foundation