Inmate at Rikers tests positive for coronavirus, union official says

Coronavirus
Rikers Island

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NEW YORK — An inmate at the Rikers Island jail facility has tested positive for novel coronavirus, a spokesman for the union representing correction officers confirmed to PIX11 Wednesday.

The detainee has been removed from general population at Rikers. The news of the positive test came just hours after officials said a correction officer at Rikers was diagnosed with COVID-19.

Correction Officer Benevolent Association President Elias Husamudeen called for immediate action.

“We now have an inmate and a Correction Officer who were confirmed to have the COVID-19 virus within just the past 24 hours. 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. “If we are not provided with the specific masks and hand sanitizers we need, if we are not changing how new intakes are being admitted, if we are not putting the safety of our members first, then this crisis will grow worse with each passing day. Give us the help we need now!”

The officer with COVID-19 is “assigned to a post that does not routinely include contact with people in custody,” DOC Deputy Commissioner for Public Information Peter Thorne said.

On Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said jail inmates at high-risk of vulnerability to coronavirus and incarcerated people with a low risk of offending again may be released from city jails as officials battle the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We’re going to evaluate those numbers and the details and determine if case-by-case any of those individuals should be taken out of our jail system,” de Blasio said.

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