NY jails working to prevent spread of COVID-19
The state Commission on Correction reported that 56 inmates and 63 staff statewide have tested positive for COVID-19
By Heather Yakin
The Times Herald-Record
GOSHEN, N.Y. — The state Commission on Correction has mandated that jails across the state work to prevent or minimize the spread of COVID-19 within their walls.
As of Wednesday, the CoC had reports of 56 inmates and 63 staff statewide who have tested positive for the virus, out of a statewide population of 13,864 inmates and 18,569 employees in county and New York City jails.
None of the jail cases, inmate or staff, is in Orange, Ulster or Sullivan counties, according to the CoC, which oversees the state's jails.
Orange County Sheriff Carl DuBois said his office does have as many as three deputies, all of whom work in a separate area outside the jail, with confirmed or suspected cases of coronavirus. Each is quarantined at home.
The CoC is working with jail administrators to ensure policies and procedures in screening, handling and treating inmates who may have the virus, and to ensure jails are working in collaboration with local health authorities.
Jails are required to report any doctor-confirmed COVID-19 case or quarantine of an inmate or staff member. CoC provided guidance on social distancing while supervising inmates in precautionary quarantine, and for staff use of personal protective equipment by staff supervising a symptomatic or confirmed-positive inmate.
DuBois stopped allowing visitors at the county jail on March 7, early in the unfolding coronavirus spread in the U.S. and before other counties in New York had taken such a step.
As another precaution, Orange County also has stopped accepting new immigration detainees and other federal suspects that it holds - for a fee - in unused beds at the jail on behalf of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Marshals Service.
"We're very much on top of this," DuBois said.
©2020 The Times Herald-Record, Middletown, N.Y.