Statement From Dept. of Corrections on Covid Crisis at Woodbourne Correctional Facility
Following is a statement￼ from the New York State Department of Corrections & Supervision sent to The SullivanTimes just now in response to a request for comment about 70 confirmed Covid-19 cases at Woodbourne Correctional Facility:
“An incarcerated individual tested positive at Woodbourne Correctional Facility and the contact tracing and testing of those identified have resulted in 66 current Positive cases. The facility data, per the COVID-19 report on the DOCCS website, also show there have been 600 individuals who have tested negative. 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. DOCCS is currently following all NYS DOH guidelines regarding congregate settings at each of its facilities.
“Throughout the pandemic, the Department has worked in consultation with the NYS Department of Health (DOH), following facts and science, as the entire incarcerated population was tested for COVID-19. DOCCS is continuing to partner with DOH as part of the New York State COVID-19 Vaccination Program that was previously announced.
“As a result of the significant increase in COVID-19 infections visitation at Woodbourne and ten other facilities has been temporarily suspended until further notice. Programs are currently suspended, however select programs will be modified in order to continue the work. The Department has also deployed rapid testing for staff. The incarcerated individuals continue to have access to their tablets, the kiosks to send secure messages and the telephones.
“Effective December 14, 2020, due to the increase in COVID-19 cases both inside and outside DOCCS’ correctional facilities, intake of state-ready individuals from county jails has been temporarily suspended. This decision will be reviewed in 30 days. The minimal intake already scheduled will occur. We will also be slowing down movement within the system.
“Additional Information: DOCCS has recently developed, in consultation with DOH, an asymptomatic surveillance testing plan that will allow for a number of incarcerated individuals from each facility to be tested every weekday, from multiple housing units, in order to avert potential outbreaks and target resources to facilities and housing units identified as a potential problem. This testing is scheduled to begin on December 21, 2020.
“The asymptomatic surveillance testing plan is in addition to testing individuals who display symptoms and those who are identified as part of a contact trace. Incarcerated individuals displaying symptoms are immediately isolated and tested. If a positive case is confirmed, a contact trace is conducted and those identified are quarantined and tested. Any individual that is COVID-19 positive or in quarantine as part of a contact trace is not allowed a visit. It is critical that both staff and incarcerated individuals continue to follow the protocols in place, which include the mandatory use of masks for all staff, visitors and incarcerated individuals when participating in activities.
“In accordance with the Governor’s Executive Order and DOH guidance, correction officers and other essential correctional facility workers, absent any symptoms, can request to be tested by their personal physician, or at one of the state’s testing sites. All staff identified as part of a contact trace are directed to quarantine and referred to their personal physician or a state testing site. In facilities that have had spikes of cases, most recently Auburn Correctional Facility, the Department has deployed rapid testing for staff. The Department makes public the confirmed number of staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 and the confirmed number of staff deaths due to the virus.”