Wednesday, December 29, 2021

DOCCS must control visitation to save lives both 'inside' and in communities

New York is heading for serious trouble. Union leaders representing state correction officers want the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to suspend visitation or order visitors and vendors to show a negative COVID test or proof of vaccination as coronavirus infections smash records.

The state reported 28,924 new virus cases last Wednesday, or 10.66% positive — a new daily record since the pandemic began. The number of active COVID-19 cases in state prisons has increased more than 35% since Dec. 10, with 442 active cases in prisons as of Dec. 10 and 596 active cases as of last Monday.

In 2020, virus cases in state prisons peaked in the summer and tailed off after the state imposed visitation restrictions. As of last Tuesday, the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision reported 7,880 staff members and 8,054 inmates have become infected since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

Four incarcerated New Yorkers who died from COVID complications were added to the department’s online dashboard in the last month, including one person held at Albion Correctional Facility in Orleans County, one at Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Westchester County, and two last week at Mohawk/Walsh prison hospice facility, Oneida County, in Mohawk Correctional.

One of the COVID deaths took place in April, but was added to the virus dashboard this month after the department received the autopsy report indicating the death was COVID-related. Thirty-nine incarcerated New Yorkers have died from coronavirus complications to date. One additional DOCCS staffer died from the virus this month, bringing the total number of COVID staff fatalities to 15.

These numbers are not carved in stone and we can expect them to soar before conditions get better. If the state acts now and controls visitation, we can save the lives of inmates and prison workers — and many more lives on the outside. 
Source and Writing-DailyNewsBatavia

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