• Rich Klein

105 INMATES AT WOODBOURNE CORRECTIONAL HAVE TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19; ALL OCCURRED THIS MONTH

As of 3 pm Monday, the number of inmates with Covid-19 at Woodbourne Correctional Facility was 105, an increase from 75 as of Saturday morning, according to the latest figures provided by the New York State Department of Corrections & Supervision.


All of the cases occurred during this month. Eight inmates have recovered and one has died.


And, there are still 74 pending cases based on testing that began on a large scale at the facility on November 9.


On Saturday, The SullivanTimes received a statement from the Corrections Department after the number of positive cases hit 75 there late last week and this media outlet reached out for comment.


"Every facet of the state’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak has been guided by facts, scientific data, and the guidance of public health experts at NYS DOH and the CDC, and the work of DOCCS to protect the safety of New York’s corrections staff and incarcerated population is no different," the statement said. "DOCCS is currently following all NYS DOH guidelines regarding congregate settings at each of its facilities."


In addition, 863 inmates have tested negative since testing began at the facility. (Some inmates who had symptoms prior to November 9 were also tested, according to some of the medical records in two habeas corpus lawsuits).


The SullivanTimes reported exclusively late last week that at least three corrections officers had also tested positive and were sick with symptoms. However, the Corrections Department does not release information about the number of officers/staff who have tested positive by facility.


Last Thursday, The Legal Aid Society filed a lawsuit against the Corrections Department in State Supreme Court/Albany on precisely this issue, since it was twice denied Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests to learn the total number of officers and staff who tested positive in each state prison facility.


Legal Aid alleged that denial of the data "is conclusory. It does not explain how disclosure of facility-level statistics and data could jeopardize anyone's life when the data neither identifies any person by name, job title, job assignment, or posting within a facility, nor reveals any facility's current or potential future vulnerabilities, particularly where most facilities are staffed by hundreds if not thousands of employees. DOCCS simply does not attempt to explain how a person could use the requested facility-level data to harm another person today or in the future. Absent such explanation, DOCCS fails to meet its burden to show that the endangerment exemption applies."


Note: For more of The SullivanTimes coverage of the crisis at Woodbourne Correctional, please visit www.sullivantimes.com




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