An outbreak at the West Tennessee Detention Facility in Mason has dramatically increased the number of COVID-19 cases in Tipton County, but doesn’t seem to account for every new confirmed case.

Tipton County saw its biggest increase in confirmed cases Monday and added an additional death as well.

The majority of the 214-case increase includes inmates at the CoreCivic-owned West Tennessee Detention Facility in Mason where there are now 250 total confirmed cases.

“COVID is really sweeping through that facility,” said county executive Jeff Huffman. “So Tipton County’s number are going to skyrocket due primarily to the situation at the prison.”


The outbreak at the prison was first announced on Monday, April 20. The total number of cases was 29 and included only inmates. A week ago total cases increased to 79.

Mass testing of the inmates and employees at the facility – which CoreCivic and the U.S. Marshals didn’t initially plan to do – added 171 confirmed cases to the total.

It is not yet known how many of the newly-confirmed patients are staff members, how many active cases there are at the prison or how severe the symptoms are for patients. The 600-bed facility in Mason houses approximately 550 people and employs 165.

CoreCivic said the prison has been following the experts’ advice to help prevent the transmission of the virus.

“Since even before any confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our facilities, we have rigorously followed the guidance of local, state and federal health authorities, as well as our government partners,” said Amanda Gilchrist, CoreCivic’s director of public affairs. “We have responded to this unprecedented situation appropriately, thoroughly and with care for the safety and well-being of those entrusted to us and our communities.”

On May 1, Gov. Bill Lee announced mass testing for Tennessee Department of Corrections inmates and employees would be conducted statewide after outbreaks at prisons in Bledsoe, Trousdale, Hickman and Lake counties.

The remaining 43 cases in the surge have not yet been attributed to that, or any other, outbreak in the county.

Tipton County has seen, on average, two new cases per day for the past eight weeks and is currently second in the West Tennessee region for number of confirmed cases and COVID-19-related deaths.

The third Tipton County death was reported today by Huffman, though it has not yet been reflected by the TDH reporting. The county’s first two COVID-related deaths were recorded on May 3 and May 6.

What are the numbers today?

Confirmed cases: 373+, which includes at least 250 people at the West Tennessee Detention Facility in Mason


Tipton Countians tested: 2,543, which is 4.7 percent of the county’s population

Number negative: 2,170+

If you’d like to be tested, check out our list of testing sites.

Recovery and hospitalization

Number of Tipton Countians recovered: 83

Number hospitalized at Baptist-Tipton: Not known

Tipton County deaths: 3

With at least 373 confirmed cases and 83 reported recoveries, this means there are at least 290 active cases of COVID-19 in Tipton County.

The Tennessee Department of Health does not release to the public county-specific data on hospitalizations, the severity of cases or identifying information about patients.

Echo Day
Author: Echo Day

Echo Day is an award-winning journalist, photographer and designer. She is currently The Leader's managing editor.