Coronavirus has left nearly 800 inmates quarantined in NYC jails

By: 
CHELSIA ROSE MARCIUS

The spread of coronavirus has left nearly 800 people quarantined in city jails, the Daily News has learned.

The majority of those individuals are on Rikers Island, with over 350 of them at the Anna M. Kross Center and more than 80 others at West Facility — the location of the jail’s Communicable Disease Unit, according to an internal document obtained by The News.

The George R. Vierno Center has about 75 people in quarantine, while the newly reopened Eric M. Taylor Center has just over 70. As of Saturday, there were 4,740 people in city custody, data shows.

The numbers — which were taken over the weekend and continue to fluctuate based on new arrests, approved releases and other factors — are an indication that the Department of Correction and Correctional Health Services does not have a handle on the outbreak, said Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association President Elias Husamudeen.

“If we continue to medically isolate at this rate, all of Rikers Island is going to be under quarantine," Husamudeen said. “I don’t think the department is prepared to handle this ...Something needs to be done immediately, and DOC seems unable or unwilling to do whatever is necessary to deal with it."

So far, 114 Correction Department staffers and 139 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19, officials said on Sunday.

Correction Department staffers are screened for flu-like symptoms before entering the jails, a Correctional Health Services spokeswoman said. CHS has not yet released the number of people they have tested.

Husamudeen — who has called for a centralized coronavirus testing site on the island to better screen officers going in and out of the facilities — said that city is running out of time.

“Eventually we’re going to end up in a situation where everyone gets sick,” he said. “There are officers who are not going home (after work) because they do not want to give it to their families ... (The city has) not done enough to protect people.”