New York – In April, more than half of Rikers Island was closed to quarantine due to exposure to the Coronavirus.
During the peak of the epidemic in the spring, more than 1,400 correction officers were infected with the virus. Three inmates died.
Now, a city correction board member fears the same thing will happen again – that COVID-19 is returning to Rikers Island.
Correction Board Member Dr. Robert Cohen told NY1 that new data shows that the number of inmates under quarantine in city prisons due to exposure to COVID-19 is increasing.
According to the City Prison Supervision Board, there were 46 inmates in housing units exposed to COVID-19 on November 7. By November 13, that number had nearly tripled to 132. During the same time period, there were seven new confirmed cases of COVID-19 among the department of repair personnel.
Cohen told NY1 that he had recently visited a prison on Rikers Island and said it was “extremely overcrowded”.
“49 men are in a 50-bed residence, with nearly half the beds touching each other, no more than three or four feet apart,” Cohen said. The Reform Ministry has thousands of empty beds. There is no reason why the detainees were overcrowded. This is dangerous for them, dangerous for employees, and it will pose a danger to all of us. “
He referred to figures from the council that echo this fact. As of November 13, 45% of Rikers’ prison dormitories were over 75%.
Cohen said that given the new spike in COVID-19, the city should work to testing all repair department personnel on a weekly basis.
NY1 has contacted Correction Department for a response and we are awaiting a response.
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