The timeline is urgent’: NYC correction officer union calling for coronavirus testing site at Rikers Island

By: 
CHELSIA ROSE MARCIUS

COBA president Elias Husamudeen speaks to the media at a press conference at COBA's office in East Elmherst, Queens in this file photo. (Go Nakamura for New York Daily N/New York Daily News)

The city’s correction officer union Sunday called for a testing site at Rikers Island to screen officers coming in and out of city jails for coronavirus.
The Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association — with the support of state Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Queens) — said the centralized site is one of several measures the Department of Correction should implement to protect people from COVID-19.
“COBA is calling for the City of New York to immediately establish a testing facility to ensure every New York City correction officer is tested for COVID-19 before and after entering the city jails," Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association President Elias Husamudeen said.
“We greatly appreciate the leadership of Assemblyman David Weprin, Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Corrections, for joining us in this fight and look forward to other legislative leaders advocating for this vital facility to help keep our officers safe,” he added.

Werpin wrote a letter to Mayor de Blasio arguing there’s ample room at Rikers for the site, which could help prevent potentially sick officers from entering the facilities.
“Rikers Island currently brings together thousands of Correction Officers and other employees and thousands of people who have been placed there based on a judicial order," Werpin wrote. “We have an obligation to take appropriate steps to act responsibly in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“The timeline is urgent," he added. "We need to implement the plan now, before the virus spreads throughout the system.”
Husamudeen asked the city last week to buy Avon Protection respirator masks — gear used by the military to protect against biological warfare agents.
“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,” he said.
As of Sunday, 29 inmates and 17 DOC employees at Rikers had tested positive for COVID-19.