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Union leaders, elected officials call on DOC, propose testing site on Rikers Island

As the number of coronavirus cases continues to increase in New York City, union leaders and elected officials are calling on the city’s Department of Corrections to take action.

News 12 Staff

Mar 31, 2020, 8:22 PM

Updated 1,538 days ago

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As the number of coronavirus cases continues to increase in New York City, union leaders and elected officials are calling on the city’s Department of Corrections to take action. 
A proposal they are offering is the opening of a testing site on Rikers Island. This proposal comes after two employees on the island died due to the coronavirus. 
With hundreds of inmates and DOC staff members diagnosed with COVID-19, they’re asking the agency to do more to stop the spread. 
The head of the Corrections Officers Benevolent Association stood alongside the Brooklyn borough president outside of Rikers Island Tuesday. 
The union says it is distributing more than 40,000 masks and 20,000 gloves to its 10,000 members because they claim personal protection equipment hasn’t been provided. 
The union leader has two main requests of the city’s DOC: 
- Develop a task force focused on the fight against COVID-19 
- Open a testing site on the island for correction officers and civilian staff. 
Earlier this month the DOC created a “COVID-19 Preparation and Action Plan.”
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The plan suspended in-person visits, isolates inmates with symptoms, implements social distancing in dorms, and increases deep cleaning at its facilities. 
The mayor says 900 inmates were released as of Tuesday to limit the spread. 
“We do not want to move our city from a health crisis to a public safety crisis. If we get a real situation here and this thing starts to spread, it's going to spread like wildfire and New Yorkers are going to have a problem on their hands,” said de Blasio.


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