Confirmed Covid-19 cases among inmates at Woodbourne Correctional Facility - which started testing on a widespread scale on November 9 - have climbed to 195 as of yesterday, according to the latest data from the New York State Department of Corrections & Community Supervision.
The Covid positivity rate (with 860 inmates tested) comes to 22.6 percent.
Seventy six tests are pending of those inmates who have been tested. Seventy nine inmates have recovered and one has died, the latest data reports.
The facility had 32 confirmed cases on December 15 and has climbed steadily since then.
In a memo obtained by The SullivanTimes yesterday from Acting Corrections Commissioner Anthony Annucci, he expressed concern over the rise in Covid among inmates, staff and the surrounding communities. The memo was addressed to all state prison superintendents to explain why visitations were being stopped as of 3 pm today (Wednesday)
Meanwhile, in a written interview on Tuesday with The Legal Society of New York City, which has been advocating on behalf of inmates and is representing one prisoner at Woodbourne, harshly criticized the department for its handling of the coronavirus crisis.
"DOCCS' approach to testing, to the extent it can be discerned from the limited data made public, has never tracked the recommendations of scientists," said Elizabeth Isaacs, the supervising attorney for Legal Aid. "Testing has been sporadic, post-testing quarantine inconsistent, and it has never done on a systematic basis on anyone who is asympomatic. Legal Aid receives reports from clients that raise serious concerns about testing protocols. We hear about clients moved between facilities without being tested; clients arriving in a facility untested and then being released into general population before the recommended quarantine period has elapsed; about clients who request tests and are denied because their symptoms aren't "bad enough."
She added that inmate Frank Harris, a Legal Aid client whose petition was recently filed, "is a 62-year-old Black man suffering from many comorbidities, including HIV, diabetes, prostate cancer, and hypertension. He is one of many clients whose underlying health conditions have gone untreated or under-treated during the pandemic, and whose medical vulnerability has been completely overlooked -- no additional protections have been provided. "
"We all know that COVID-19 disproportionately affects communities of color, communities who are also disproportionately represented in the incarcerated population, and also communities disproportionately affected by sub-standard health care. The stunning inaction by DOCCS and Governor Cuomo in the face of these stark realities shocks the conscience. "