Saratoga, NY – Correctional Officers in North Country prisons are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 due to the nature of their work, and until today, were not permitted to bring their own personal protective equipment into work to use as a precaution. Congresswoman Elise Stefanik called on the state to reverse this policy and grant permission to Correctional Officers to bring PPE from home. This morning, the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision announced that prison staff on the front lines will be allowed to bring in and use their own PPE during work.
Congresswoman Stefanik is calling on New York State to create a comprehensive statewide COVID-19 public health plan to address continued lack of safety precautions at North Country prisons during the crisis.
“After working with our Correctional Officers to urge the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to allow officers to use their own PPE, permission was granted this morning to allow front line staff to use masks in the state prisons,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “During this unprecedented time, every possible precaution must be taken to mitigate and slow the spread of COVID-19. I’m calling on New York State to create a comprehensive plan to address the continued lack of safety and health precautions in our prisons. Our North Country Correctional Officers work in close quarters with other staff and inmates, and for several weeks have been vulnerable to the virus due to state policy. I’m encouraged that the state reversed their PPE policy and I will continue to work with state and local officials to ensure our essential prison workers across the North Country are afforded every safety measure possible to protect them from COVID-19. Additionally, we need to address the concerning breakdown of communication between our prisons, our county public health officials, and hospitals. Opening up this communication line needs to be prioritized by the State immediately.”