PIKEVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Nearly 600 inmates at a Bledsoe County prison have tested positive for COVID-19 and the staff is being blamed for the outbreak.

We now know that at least 576 inmates at the Bledsoe County Correctional Complex have tested positive for COVID-19 with 1,695 inmates testing negative and results pending for 54.

The prison is now second on a New York Times list of counties in the nation with the highest number of cases per resident.

Tennessee Department of Correction’s chief medical director says the overwhelming number of cases can be traced back to the community working at the prison for failing to practice proper social distancing.

“That perception is misguided in the fact that where it will actually start is not in the prison and then come out into the community. It is, in fact, the other way around.

Tennessee Dept. of Correction Chief Medical Director Dr. Kenneth Williams

This leaves county leaders to wonder how much their community was truly affected.