The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in New York Prisons is on the rise and at an alarming rate. NYSCOPBA Central Region VP Bryan Hluska confirmed 18 cases at the Marcy Correctional Facility.

Hluska joined 'First News with Keeler in the Morning to give an update on what the correctional community is dealing with.

Hluska says The NY State Department of Corrections was not adequately prepared for this pandemic. "The visits went too long, the transportation went too long and we had to fight tooth and nail to get PPE," Hluska added.

Hluska tells WIBX, an inmate that was in isolation and was showing symptoms was tested and something got mixed up and that inmate was then released back into general population. "Later we found out that inmate did indeed test positive and that's what led to the spread in one of the dorms."

Hluska broke down the numbers in our local prisons. Marcy is no doubt the hardest hit prison. Hluska says 10 Officers, 1 Lieutenant, 1 civilian employee and 6 inmates have test positive for COVID-19. 120 inmates in two dorms are under quarantine and 21 officers are quarantined in their homes. He said there is 1 officer who tested positive at Midstate and none at Mohawk.

Across the state the number of prison-associated cases are increasing and there have been deaths. As of April 12th, the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision confirmed that 552 staff members, 131 inmates and 24 parolees have tested positive for COVID-19. The DOCCS also reports 1 staff member, 3 inmates and 4 parolees have died as a result of Coronavirus.

The state says with each confirmed case they work to identify and notify any potentially exposed individuals. They say,

DOCCS tests incarcerated individuals when they exhibit symptoms and after a medical evaluation has been conducted. Medical professionals, including nurses, swab the individual and send the swab to an authorized lab. These individuals are then isolated until the Department receives the results of their tests and they do not report to their work programs. When test results are positive, those individuals remain quarantined for 14 days.

NYSCOPBA officials have been critical of the State Department of Corrections and their response to the Coronavirus Pandemic. DOCCS officials maintain they have done everything they can to help stop the spread.

Another concern Hluska pointed out was the Department's removal of officer swapping privileges. Swapping is a process where correctional officers can trade shifts with another. So, if an officer wanted to take extra time off to spend quarantine time with family and give a single officer who lives alone more hours they can't.

Hluska says even though they are receiving standard hazard pay, the DOCCS needs to do more. Hluska says, "the department has been reactive the whole time and the only time it haS been proactive is when they decided not to give us our raise." That raise was expected this year, but did not come. NYSCOPBA President Michael Powers said the deferment of the raises is "another slap in the face to the brave men and women in law enforcement and those on the front lines of keeping order in our state’s prison system and our mental health facilities."

DOCCS in a statement on their website states, "In its history, the Department has successfully managed infectious outbreaks, such as tuberculosis, AIDS, and Hepatitis C. DOCCS maintains a comprehensive Pandemic Flu protocol that has been modified for COVID-19."

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