State of Tennessee photo / South Central Correctional Facility (SCCF) is a time-building prison with a security designation of medium.

NASHVILLE — A new wave of COVID-19 is sweeping through a Tennessee prison with 965 inmates and staffers at the privately run South Central Correctional Facility in Middle Tennessee testing positive, state officials announced Monday.

The Tennessee Department of Correction said in a news release that the breakout in the Wayne County facility southwest of Nashville was discovered as a result of mass testing ordered Thursday and Friday by concerned state officials.

That was "based on observations made by TDOC's medical director in conjunction with the Tennessee Department of Health after several inmates and staff at the CoreCivic operated facility began showing symptoms of COVID-19," TDOC stated in the release.

Some 1,400 people were tested. Results are pending on 168 tests. It was not immediately clear how many inmates and how many staffers at the Wayne County prison were infected.

It's the largest COVID-19 outbreak at a Tennessee facility in months.

In May, Trousdale Turner Correctional Center in Hartsville, north of Nashville, had the highest number of people infected with the virus, with 1,285 sickened. At least one inmate died.

Back in late April at the state-run Bledsoe County Regional Complex in Pikeville north of Chattanooga, there were 583 COVID-19 cases confirmed. Earlier that month, the Times Free Press reported a physician and two nurses left after they were told they couldn't wear protective masks while working inside.

Reports by those facilities catapulted both rural counties into the nation's highest per capita infections list at the time.

Latest available state figures on Monday show the Women's Therapeutic Residential Center in Nashville is No. 2 with current COVID-19 infections at 28 cases.

Bledsoe County is No. 3 with 10 cases. The Lois M. DeBerry Special Needs Facility in Nashville has seven cases, while CoreCivic-run Hardeman County Correctional Facility in Whiteville now has six cases.

The Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville has five cases, while Northeast Correctional Complex in Mountain City in Johnson County has five cases. The Debra K. Johnson Rehabilitation Center in Nashville has three cases.

Contact Andy Sher at or 615-255-0550. Follow on Twitter @AndySher1.