NYUJ Testing Update: New York Prisons See More Than 60 New COVID-19 Cases From Last Week; NYUJ Coalition Calls on DOCCS to Retest Incarcerated Population and Adopt Mass Testing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 16, 2020
Contact: Jason Kaplan | kaplan@skdknick.com

NYUJ Testing Update: New York Prisons See More Than 60 New COVID-19 Cases From Last Week; NYUJ Coalition Calls on DOCCS to Retest Incarcerated Population and Adopt Mass Testing

DOCCS’s Current COVID-19 Testing Approach Increases Risk of COVID-19 Outbreaks and Spreads to Communities

NEW YORK—Following the continued increase in positive COVID-19 cases among incarcerated New Yorkers, New Yorkers United for Justice (NYUJ)—a bipartisan coalition of local and national non-profit organizations that promote fair and safe criminal justice reforms—is calling on the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) to immediately retest New York’s incarcerated population and align with New York State’s COVID-19 mass testing strategy. Compared to last week, NYUJ’s latest report demonstrates more than 60 new COVID-19 cases in New York State’s correctional facilities.

NYUJ is also calling on DOCCS to immediately retest people with previous negative tests in all New York State prisons to have access to up-to-date, accurate information to prevent more prison outbreaks and spreads to neighboring communities.

“Despite recent outbreaks in several of its correctional facilities, DOCCS continues to engage in the bare minimum of targeted diagnostic testing in its facilities for their staff and incarcerated populations,” said Alexander Horwitz, Executive Director of NYUJ. “Failure to adopt timely and regular mass testing for both the virus and antibodies for all incarcerated New Yorkers not only jeopardizes their safety and the safety of correctional staff, but the public health of all our communities.”

Since March, DOCCS has failed to respond to calls to release a publicly disclosed plan to prevent the spread of coronavirus in correctional facilities and the statewide criminal justice system.

The need for increased testing and policies focused on decarceration are more urgent than ever as the state continues to experience a reported ongoing shortage of flu vaccines for incarcerated New Yorkers at DOCCS’s correctional facilities. Due to similar symptoms between the flu and COVID-19, lack of access to flu vaccines may create misdiagnoses and increase the risk of COVID-19 transmissions.

COVID-19 Cases Among Incarcerated Individuals and Correctional Staff
Updated on November 16, 2020

Prison System (Accessed Nov 16, 2020) Incarcerated Positive Staff Positive Incarcerated Individual-to-Staff COVID-19 Ratio # of Tests for incarcerated population
Alabama 751 542 1.39 6,783
California 17,498 4,915 3.56 106,351
Delaware 563 217 2.59 N/A
Federal BOP 19,702 2,656 7.42 74,862
Florida 16,974 3,597 4.72 84,406
Georgia 2,125 1,049 2.03 N/A
Illinois 3,258 1,909 1.71 N/A
Indiana 1,813 750 2.42 9,216
Iowa 2,966 407 7.29 25,772
Kansas 4,411 581 7.59 N/A
Louisiana 2,426 536 4.53 6,903
Michigan 9,411 1,347 6.99 241,140
Missouri 3,364 1,286 2.62 63,382
Nevada 170 214 0.79 12,368
New Jersey 3,017 1,182 2.55 Phase 3 testing, testing all individuals who tested negative in Phase 2.
New York 1,705 1,540 1.11 34,835
Ohio 7,267 1,942 3.74 41,652
Oregon 1,348 337 4.00 9,416
Pennsylvania 1,257 728 1.73 29,731
South Carolina 2,394 545 4.39 N/A
Texas 25,682 6,039 4.25 233,212
Vermont 55 25 2.20 2,117
Wisconsin 6,157 1,407 4.38 62,342

 

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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.