Source: Covid-19 Cases At Woodbourne Strike More CO's Than Previously Reported
Updated: Jan 23, 2021
24.5 percent of Woodbourne Inmates Have Tested Positive Since November
Cases among inmates at Sullivan Correctional now total 40
At least 30 corrections officers at Woodbourne Correctional Facility have tested positive for Covid-19 in recent months, according to a source whose spouse works there.
The source believes that the facility stopped rapid testing of officers earlier this month when too many results were coming back positive.
But that has been disputed by Thomas Mailey, a spokesperson for the Department of Corrections & Community Supervision. He said in an emailed statement to The SullivanTimes:
"Woodbourne Correctional Facility offered rapid testing to staff until January 11, which was when the Department switched to offering regular, bi-weekly testing for staff at all of its correctional facilities. This was a long-planned, system-wide change to proactively safeguard the health of our staff that was in no way influenced by the number of positive results received from rapid testing."
The SullivanTimes has reported extensively on the spike in Covid-19 cases among inmates at Woodbourne, rising from just 32 in mid December to 225 as of today. Of the 225 infected, 221 prisoners have recovered while two inmates died from coronavirus, the state data shows.
The facility has tallied the second most cases of Covid among inmates incarcerted at New York state prisons, topped only by Elmira.
Woodbourne had surprisingly set itself apart from most of the other state prisons between March and November when it showed zero cases among inmates. But testing among inmates on a widespread scale at the facility did not begin until November 9. The first confirmed case at Woodbourne was reported in early December. By Christmas Eve, that number had risen to 142.
The SullivanTimes on December 18 reported that three officers had tested positive, based on an interview with another source at the facility. But until today, no further information was available about cases among correction officers.
Meanwhile, at nearby Sullivan Correctional Facility, there's been an increase of Covid-19 cases among inmates from 28 to 41 since early January, with 28 of them reportedly recovered.
The Department of Corrections & Community Supervision does not disclose the number of staff cases by facility.
As of January 19, 2021, the Department had had a total of 3,952 staff members test positive for COVID-19. Roughly, 82-percent (3,264) have recovered and returned to work, according to the latest data.
On January 11, the state's corrections officers became eligible to receive the vaccine - but that was on the same day that many other parts of the population became eligible, including anyone 65 and over plus many other groups like teachers, police officers, grocery store workers, child care providers and transit workers.
And there has been no urgency by state officials to make corrections officers a top priority to get the shots, even though the prisons have been hotbeds of infections due to the inability of inmates to maintain adequate social distancing.