Visitation suspended at some state prisons seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases

On March 14th New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision announced a temporary suspension of inmate visits. It was intended to last through April 11th. As the Novel Coronavirus continued to spread, the suspension of visitation was extended to May 15th.

Even that wasn’t long enough though, as it was extended again to June 1st. After revisiting the issue visits resumed on August 5th for maximum security prisons and August 8th for all other facilities.

When planning the reopening DOCCS made all information available on their webpage for visitors to plan ahead with the new guidelines in place. Visiting rooms were reconfigured to meet CDC guidelines with social distancing, and masks are required. DOCCS reserved the right to deny any visitor if they did not wear one. Visitors are screened upon arrival, and temperatures taken to ensure they do not have a fever.

At this point, visits are limited to a maximum number of three people per visit, the click-click program – polaroid photos for purchase during visits, and Family Reunion Programs have been temporarily suspended and the children’s play areas are closed. Individual expectations are available on the specific facility websites, including rotating visitation schedules for inmates according to their DIN or first letter of their last name to help minimize the number of visits in a day.

With a few exceptions around the state, these efforts appear to have worked in slowing the spread of COVID-19.

Some of the hardest hit facilities early on included Shawangunk and Fishkill Correctional Facilities, both of which have managed to minimize the number of cases and spread since that point.

Available on the DOCCS website is a report containing information regarding inmate cases and tests, which was last updated Wednesday at 3 p.m.

According to DOCCS Elmira and Greene visitation has been suspended until further notice to help contain the spread of COVID-19 happening at those facilities. Transportation of inmates in- and out- of Elmira and Greene correctional facilities has also been suspended.

Elmira Correctional Facility has 337 total positive cases with only 8 recovered and 430 pending cases. Greene Correctional Facility currently has 100 total positive cases with 29 recovered and 3 pending.

In all DOCCS reports 1,265 total positive cases, 799 recovered, 18 deceased and 1,216 pending. In total they have tested 21,916 negative cases.

While facilities across the board have worked hard to contain the virus, according to DOCCS, it appears as though some facilities are just beginning to deal with the consequences of COVID-19.


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