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State of Tennessee / Trousdale Turner Correctional Center is a medium security facility managed by CoreCivic, a private corrections management firm.

NASHVILLE — State Department of Correction officials announced Tuesday that mass coronavirus testing is underway for all state inmates housed at Trousdale Turner Correctional Center, with 93 inmates testing positive so far for COVID-19 at the privately-run Middle Tennessee prison.

Officials say the prisoners are housed at the CoreCivic-operated facility in Hartsville. They are among 756 inmates at seven Tennessee state prisons who have now tested positive for the infection, including 578 inmates at the state-run Bledsoe County Correctional Complex near Pikeville, which has made national news.

TDOC officials said in a news release that after there were several positive COVID-19 test results at Trousdale Turner, the state directed Nashville-based CoreCivic to conduct more. The company is working with the state on the mass testing and plans to begin screening its own employees Wednesday, according to the state.

Prison Commissioner Tony Parker says the mass testing is part of a "strategic and proactive targeted plan" based on "aggressive contact tracing" to address the pandemic.

To date, 3,810 inmates across the state's prison system have been tested. Officials say the "vast majority" of the 756 prisoners who have tested positive are asymptomatic. Eight inmates have been hospitalized. All but three have been released from the hospital and are recovering, according to TDOC. Results from 85 tests were pending as of Tuesday.

On Monday, Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond's office confirmed an inmate who had been transferred on April 14 from the Bledsoe County prison to the Hamilton County Jail later tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The prisoner had been transferred to the county as a federal inmate.

About 25 people, both Hamilton County inmates and staff, had been tested as of Monday. The sheriff's office was notified on Monday by Erlanger hospital that the former state inmate had tested positive for COVID-19, sheriff's office spokesman Matt Lea said.

Prior to the Bledsoe County prison's COVID-19 outbreak, contract medical staffers told the Times Free Press they quit their jobs there due to concerns over safety.

Contact Andy Sher at asher@timesfreepress.com. Follow on Twitter @AndySher1.

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