NYC Correction Department permits staffers to bring their own masks to work during coronavirus

By: 
CHELSIA ROSE MARCIUS

The city’s Department of Correction gave jail staffers permission on Sunday to use their own N95 or surgical masks — and promised to distribute more N95 masks to curb the spread of coronavirus, the Daily News has learned.(Mark Woodward/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

The city’s Department of Correction gave jail staffers permission on Sunday to use their own N95 or surgical masks — and promised to distribute more N95 masks to curb the spread of coronavirus, the Daily News has learned.
Any masks brought into the jails must meet agency requirements, according to an internal memo obtained by The News.
“Uniformed and non-uniformed staff are permitted to utilize their own personal protective equipment masks...during their tour of duty,” the memo says. "Prior to usage, masks will be subject to inspection."
The masks must be contoured to the face, they cannot contain metal and they cannot impede the safety and security of any area, the memo continued.

The notice — sent out at 8:55 p.m. Sunday from DOC Commissioner Cynthia Brann — also said the agency has a limited quantity of masks and would prioritize staffers who work in quarantined jail areas, areas where individuals show flu-like symptoms and “any areas deemed necessary by the department.”
The decision came 16 days after the commissioner first informed staffers about COVID-19, according to another internal memo obtained by The News.
In that memo, dated March 6, Brann ordered staffers not to cross the threshold of any quarantined facility, and told them they would be subject to periodic checks for coronavirus symptoms.

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Since then, the city’s correction officers’ union has called for more supplies — including masks — and for a testing site at Rikers Island that could better screen correction officers coming in and out of the facilities.
“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,” Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association President Elias Husamudeen said last week.
“Correction officers can’t stay home. We don’t have the ability to do (our jobs) through a computer...we can’t call in sick," he said. "We’re just asking for the city to give us the supplies we need.”