NYUJ TESTING UPDATE: AMID 1 DEATH & 2 COVID-19 OUTBREAKS IN ONE WEEK DOCCS CONTINUES LAGGARD TESTING APPROACH; NYUJ SAYS TWO PRISONS ARE NOW GRAPPLING WITH POSITIVE RATES ABOVE 10%

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 21, 2020  
Contact: Jessica Floyd | JFloyd@Skdknick.com |  

NYUJ TESTING UPDATE: AMID 1 DEATH & 2 COVID-19 OUTBREAKS IN ONE WEEK
DOCCS CONTINUES LAGGARD TESTING APPROACH; NYUJ SAYS TWO PRISONS ARE NOW GRAPPLING  WITH POSITIVE RATES ABOVE 10%

NYUJ Says DOCCS’ Inaction Resulted In 1 death, 116 Positive Cases Since Last Week, & Complete Outbreak in 2 Prisons

NEW YORK – Following news of the death of another incarcerated New Yorker during the same week Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) grappled with two outbreaks: one at Elmira Correctional Facility and one at Greene Correctional Facility, New Yorkers United for Justice (NYUJ) today called on New York State to implement a new COVID-19 strategy in DOCCS before more deaths occur.

As we see this week, outbreaks are inevitable as the piecemeal approach of DOCCS continues. Diagnostic test results older than two weeks are meaningless for any serious effort to control the spread of the virus due to the incubation period of the disease and the sensitivity threshold of the tests. Due to DOCCS failure to test all incarcerated New Yorkers, routine diagnostic testing alone is not enough, the agency must follow negative diagnostic results with antibody testing.

After two virus outbreaks in one week, the only responsible actions DOCCS can take from at this point must include administering diagnostic tests to all incarcerated individuals within a two week period and continue on a rolling basis, conducting antibody testing, and reducing the incarcerated populations to promote social distance throughout the department. A comprehensive testing plan grows in urgency as we approach the upcoming flu season, for which DOCCS has a worrying shortage of vaccines. We can’t afford to misdiagnose COVID-19 for the flu and risk another prison outbreak nor an outbreak spreading to neighboring communities.

New Yorkers United for Justice has called for not only a mass testing since March, but a publicly disclosed plan to prevent the spread of coronavirus in correctional facilities and the statewide criminal justice system.

COVID Cases Among Incarcerated Individuals and Correctional Staff
Updated on October 20, 2020

Prison System (Accessed  Oct 20, 2020)

Incarcerated Positive

Staff Positive

Incarcerated Individual to Staff COVID ratio

# of Tests for incarcerated population

Alabama

453

429

1.06

3,217

California

15,304

4,023

3.80

98,213

Delaware*

559

192

2.91

N/A

Federal BOP

16,210

2,037

7.96

65,320

Florida

16,552

3,344

4.95

82,673

Georgia

1,962

961

2.04

N/A

Illinois

2,082

1,017

2.05

N/A

Indiana

1,412

536

2.63

7,021

Iowa

1,234

175

7.05

19,026

Kansas*

2,490

306

8.14

N/A

Louisiana

2,405

510

4.72

6,784

Michigan

6,201

720

8.61

157,641

Missouri

2,983

957

3.12

48,167

Nevada

27

147

0.18

12,368

New Jersey

2,923

1,059

2.76

Phase 3 testing, testing all individuals who tested negative in Phase 2.

New York

936

1,398

0.67

22,447

Ohio

6,709

1,370

4.90

36,010

Oregon

1,199

286

4.19

7,965

Pennsylvania

619

372

1.66

19,710

South Carolina

2,315

507

4.57

N/A

Texas*

21,695

4,749

4.57

205,284

Vermont

55

22

2.50

2,009

Wisconsin

2,967

701

4.23

47,991

*Departments have not updated data since last report.

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About New Yorkers United for Justice (NYUJ):
New Yorkers United for Justice is a statewide coalition comprised of local and national non-profit organizations committed to supporting a movement that will bring much-needed criminal justice reform to New York State and ensure that policies promote safety and fairness. NYUJ aims for legislative urgency to fix a broken criminal justice system that punishes the poor and communities of color, tears families apart, and makes New Yorkers less safe. NYUJ believes that a system that ensures equal access to justice for anyone accused in New York State, regardless of age, race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin or religion, must be the standard.