By Kevin Deutsch
A New York City Department of Correction employee who works in Queens has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a DOC memorandum obtained by Bronx Justice News.
The city worker, whose identity was not made public, works in the department’s Investigation Division at DOC headquarters in East Elmhurst.
The employee “has not been at work for several days and won’t be back until cleared to return to duty by…the department’s Health Management Division,” reads the memo, which went out to DOC managers from agency Commissioner Cynthia Brann and Chief of Department Hazel Jennings.
“This is not a time to panic, it is a time to recognize our systems works,” the memo states.
DOC officials will alert anyone who came into close contact with the infected employee, and “appropriate precautions taken,” according to the memo.
New York City’s jails and criminal courts remain open amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, with new inmates being bused to Rikers Island in the Bronx daily.
The correction officer’s union has called for a halt to visits to inmates in city jails, as a precaution against spread of coronavirus among prisoners and DOC employees.
Earlier this week, the Legal Aid Society said it received complaints from multiple clients locked in city jails about a lack of basic sanitation to prevent spread of COVID-19 in the facilities.
Attorneys from the group said they memorialized those concerns in a letter to the DOC and the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, and also demanded answers to a range of questions about DOC’s preparations for the pandemic.
“We expressed concerns about DOC’s preparedness for this pandemic because we all know that cases of COVID-19 in City jails are an inevitability,” said Tina Luongo, Attorney-in-Charge of Legal Aid’s Criminal Defense Practice. “In light of this confirmed case, we implore the City to act immediately to protect all people in the facilities — both people in custody and staff. We await a response to our demands, which is more critical now than ever.”