By Sasha Gonzales
A Rikers Island prisoner and city correction officer assigned to the jail have both tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said, days after the death of another virus-stricken DOC employee.
“We now have an inmate and a Correction Officer who were confirmed to have the COVID-19 virus within just the past 24 hours,” Correction Officer Benevolent Association President Elias Husamudeen said in a statement Wednesday. “The time is now for the Department of Correction to implement their contingency plans to deal with the threat we face from within the jails. If we are not provided with the specific masks and hand sanitizers we need, if we are not changing how new intakes are being admitted, if we are not putting the safety of our members first, then this crisis will grow worse with each passing day. Give us the help we need now!”
On Sunday, a DOC investigator from the Bronx died from the virus, fueling concerns about the spread of COVID-19 in New York City’s correction system.
The 56-year-old city worker, whose identity was not made public, worked in the department’s Investigation Division at DOC headquarters in East Elmhurst, and had not been to work for at least several days, officials said.
As of Wednesday, the city was still considering releasing certain prisoners from city jails to prevent further spread of the contagion, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
“We’re going to evaluate those numbers and the details and determine if case-by-case any of those individuals should be taken out of our jail system,” de Blasio said.