Coronavirus

DOCCS COVID-19 Report

DOCCS COVID-19 Report
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Regular Update

Notice Regarding Statewide Visitation
& Family Reunion Program

UPDATE - 

 
The Department has been carefully monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic both in or correctional facilities and the surrounding communities.  With the ongoing efforts to vaccinate the incarcerated population and the community at large, we have seen a decline in the positivity rate of COVID-19.  As a result, the Department is planning to resume the Family Reunion Program beginning September 8, 2021, in accordance with Directive #4500 and the additional criteria outlined here

Our greatest concern continues to be the safety and well-being of our employees and those individuals within our care, custody, and supervision, particularly during this developing public health emergency. 
 
As a result of the decline in the overall positivity rate and the distribution of vaccines to staff and incarcerated individuals 65 years and older, and the ongoing vaccinations of those who have identified comorbidities, the Department resumed visitation within our institutions on April 28, 2021 in maximum security facilities, and all other locations on Saturday, May 1, 2021.  
 
Recognizing the importance of family and visitation, while being mindful of the critical need to continue protecting staff and the incarcerated population within our facilities, we will resume visitation under the previously announced criteria: 
  • Visiting rooms will operate at half capacity to facilitate social distancing. Facilities with outside visiting areas will utilize such areas, if weather permits;
  • All visitors, incarcerated individuals and staff will be required to wear a mask during processing and during the visit.  Masks may be temporarily removed for processing, and while eating items purchased from the vending machine.  Masks must not have any pictures, writings, or sayings on them.  If a visitor does not have a mask, the visit may be denied;
  • Visitors will be screened with the questionnaire and temperature check prior to being allowed to visit.  In facilities with a hospitality center, the screening shall occur at the entrance to the hospitality center;
  • Physical contact will not be allowed;
  • Visiting will be divided into specific segments of the population (i.e., alpha by name or numeric by DIN) to ensure that each incarcerated individual can have two weekend visits per month, as published on our website.  Weekday visiting at maximum security facilities will remain in place;  
  • Each visit will be limited to three adult visitors (unless the current facility policy specifies less) and one child, under the age of five, who must sit on an adult’s lap, with no cross visiting allowed;
  • Visitors must adhere to all travel advisories in place at the time of vitiation, including individuals who have traveled to New York from another State (see Travel Advisory link below);
  • All movement in the visiting area will be controlled by staff to ensure social distancing;
  • Each table will be disinfected at the completion of a visit, as well as the vending machines, and other shared areas;
  • The children’s area will be off-limits on the re-opening of visiting, but this restriction will be periodically re-evaluated;
  • Incarcerated individuals in quarantine or isolation will not be permitted to visit until they are determined to be recovered;
  • Packages will be allowed in accordance with current policy; and
  • Limits will be placed on the number of visitors at any one time in the hospitality center, processing area and pathways to visiting room, in order to maintain social distancing between persons.
 
As we resume visitation, it is not only critical, but required, that all staff wear a mask while on duty and for all incarcerated individuals to wear a mask when leaving their cell or cube. The wearing of the mask is the single most important precaution any person can take in order to defeat COVID-19. All of us in this agency, whether staff, incarcerated individuals, or parolees, have worked very hard and made many difficult sacrifices in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The last thing any of us want or need is to lose any of the invaluable ground we thus far have gained against this terrible disease. 
 

 

It is critical that we continue to follow the safety protocols that have been put in place for everyone’s safety to stop the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses as follows:
 Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
  • Social distance; 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands, especially before you eat;
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick;
  • Cover your cough or sneeze; 
  • Avoid sharing food and utensils;
  • Report any symptoms promptly; and
  • Wear your mask when on duty or not in your cell or cube.
 
The Department takes seriously its duty to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those that work, and live in our correctional facilities, as well as those who supervise or are supervised in the greater community of New York.  During this difficult time, the Department is appreciative of everyone’s patience and understanding as we continue to face this virus together.

 

For those who have recently traveled out of state, or are coming from out of state to visit an individual in a DOCCS correctional facility, please click here to check the most up to date Travel Advisory list prior to visiting.

 

Click here to learn more about the newly launched mobile contact tracing app, COVID Alert NY. The app is voluntary and anonymous, and notifies users if they were in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19.

 

Notice Regarding Statewide Intake

 

As we have seen the numbers of positive COVID-19 cases declining across the State in communities, local facilities and DOCCS, the Department will begin accepting individuals who have been declared State Ready on Tuesday, March 30th.

 

June 17, 2021

 

DOCCS COVID-19 CONFIRMED

 

Staff

Incarcerated Population

Parolees

5171

6596*

374

*Of these confirmed cases, 6555 are now recovered and out of isolation.

 


 
DOCCS COVID-19 CONFIRMED DEATHS

 

Staff

Incarcerated Population

Parolees

8

35

9

NOTE: The official cause of death is determined and released by the County Medical Examiner's Office

DOCCS Confirmed Incarcerated Population By Facility

For security reasons, DOCCS is not disclosing information on the facility where those impacted work or are hospitalized.

With each confirmed case, the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) works with the New York State Department of Health to identify any potentially exposed individuals to provide notifications and to stop the spread of the virus. 

The testing process is currently the same for those in prison as it is for those in the community. Our physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants, working with our nurses, are following the guidance of the NYS Department of Health and incarcerated individuals are tested when exhibiting symptoms and after a medical evaluation is conducted. In addition, if an incarcerated individual is quarantined (mandatory or precautionary) and has shown symptoms of COVID-19 illness, or if facts and circumstances warrant, as determined by the treating clinician in consultation with state and local department of health officials, they are also isolated and tested.

Our process identifies patients who are ill and require special monitoring and care and isolates those who create the greatest risk of transmission to others. Asymptomatic patients who wear a mask and follow social distancing and hand hygiene guidelines have minimal risk to others. A nurse will swab the individual and that swab is then sent to an authorized lab. As we await the results, the individual is isolated. If an individual’s test result is positive that person is maintained in isolation for a minimum of 14 days.

DOCCS CONFIRMED BY FACILITY

 

 

Preparedness

In its history, the Department has successfully managed infectious outbreaks, such as tuberculosis, AIDS, and Hepatitis C. DOCCS maintains a comprehensive Pandemic Flu protocol that has been modified for COVID-19.

DOCCS retains supplies, equipment and other resources that are being made available, as needed, for impacted correctional facilities during the spread of this infectious disease. As with the occurrence of any widespread public health threat, the Department is involved in ongoing discussions and preparations, including protocol review and emergency supply inventory to ensure that the Department’s policies and procedures are as up to date as possible. The Department also has negative air flow isolation rooms and Regional Medical Units.

Emergency control plans are in place at each facility and regularly reviewed.  Each plan is uniquely designed to meet that facility’s needs. These plans include preparedness measures, response mechanisms, and short- and long-term recovery provisions. The Department has been and continues conducting table-top exercises to prepare for additional positive cases.

The Department employs medical staff specially trained in infection control in facilities across the state and has plans for each facility to implement to deal with significant staff absences.

In addition, a COVID-19 Task Force has been created and meets regularly to monitor and assess all actions and potential actions in response to this public health crisis. The Department’s executive team has consistent communication with all Facility Supervising Superintendents, Superintendents, as well as Community Supervision Regional Directors and Assistant Regional Directors as a means of monitoring in real time all COVID-19 related issues that arise within the system. 

Ongoing communication is delivered to staff and incarcerated individuals on preventative measures to stay healthy, including the top Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York State Department of Health recommendations, as well as cleaning guidelines issued by the New York State Office of General Services.

What DOCCS Is Doing

The Department takes the continued spread of this global health emergency seriously and shares the same concerns as staff, incarcerated individuals, and their loved ones.

Our focus is ensuring that the hardworking men and women of this Department, as well as our incarcerated and formerly incarcerated populations, are healthy and safe. Just as we have successfully managed infectious outbreaks in the past, we have emergency protocols in place and have proactively made adjustments in our facilities and community supervision offices in an attempt to limit any outbreaks.

Each action we take in response to the spread of COVID-19 is done in the best interest of those who work and are incarcerated in our facilities or supervised in the community. We will continue to evaluate all options as this situation unfolds.

Here are some of the measures DOCCS has initiated to ensure the safety and well-being of staff, incarcerated individuals, and parolees:

  • Mandating all staff to wear face masks while on duty.
  • Supplying all incarcerated individuals with surgical-type masks.
  • Supplying incarcerated individuals subject to isolation and quarantine with surgical-type masks.
  • Effective September 14, 2020, intake from counties will increase to three (3) days per week.
  • Slowly resuming the internal movement and transfer of incarcerated individuals, on or about June 1, 2020, while instituting social distancing on transportation vehicles, with both staff and the incarcerated population required to wear masks.
  • Visitation within our institutions will resume on Wednesday, August 5, 2020, in maximum security facilities and in all other facilities, on Saturday, August 8, 2020.
  • Working with phone and tablet vendors to ensure continued access to some weekly free calls and secure messages for the incarcerated population
  • Expanding offerings to the incarcerated population through the general population tablet program.
  • Requiring non-essential staff to remain home. 
  • Implementing a health/travel questionnaire for staff entering facilities and community supervision offices.
  • Displaying posters with information on COVID-19 and safety tips throughout DOCCS facilities and offices statewide.
  • Regularly showing a video to the incarcerated population and staff at the facilities on proper handwashing.
  • Issuing enhanced cleaning/sanitizing measures and disinfecting procedures for office surfaces and devices consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and New York State Department of Health guidelines, including working with landlords to ensure cleaning protocols are followed under the appropriate guidelines with increased frequency throughout offices especially high-risk areas and issuing appropriate protocols on how to clean vehicles.
  • Suspending in-person reports of individuals under state community supervision through June 1, 2020, at which time the suspension will be reviewed for possible extension.
  • Suspending the ability for individuals under community supervision to transfer to other locations.
  • Releasing low-level technical parole violators from local jails.
  • Issuing hand sanitizer to all facilities for staff and the incarcerated population to use, as well as community supervision offices.
  • Enlisting Corcraft, an entity of DOCCS, to develop and bottle a 75% Isopropyl alcohol-based formula as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) at three facilities: Great Meadow Correctional Facility in Washington County, Shawangunk Correctional Facility in Ulster County, and Albion Correctional Facility in Orleans County.

New Protocols

 
FACILITIES

Masks
Effective April 9, 2020

To continue protecting staff and the incarcerated population from COVID-19 entering or leaving our facilities and community supervision offices, staff are permitted, and will be provided, a face mask to wear while on duty. The Department supports this use if there is a chance it may slow or even stop the spread of this virus from entering our facilities.

Incarcerated individuals subject to quarantine are issued a surgical-type mask to further reduce the risk of any secondary transmission of COVID-19. DOCCS gives the population surgical type masks plus two cloth masks, which have been donated.

 
Releases
Effective March 27, 2020

DOCCS was directed to release low-level technical parole violators from local jails. The Department immediately identified individuals under parole supervision who were detained in a local jail pursuant to a warrant resulting from an alleged technical violation, including absconders.

Following an individualized review, the Department began canceling parole warrants where the individual has identified adequate housing is available and the release of the individual does not present an undue risk to public safety. Based on initial estimates, this action could impact up to 1,100 people, including 400 people in New York City and 700 people throughout the rest of the state.

Furthermore, new procedures temporarily modified the issuance of violations to ensure that people who would be subject to release under these protocols are not detained in the first place.

This significant action is being taken in response to a growing number of COVID-19 cases in local jails over the past few days and weeks. Our top priority remains the public health and safety of New Yorkers during this global public health emergency and this measure will further protect a vulnerable population from contracting and transmitting this infectious disease.

 
Additional Phone and Tablet Services
Effective April 29, 2020

The Department continues with our phone and tablet vendor to provide continued access to some combination of free calls and secure messages each week. 

As a result of these discussions, the following free services will be extended through May 31, 2021:

  • Phone Calls - Each incarcerated individual will receive three (3) free calls per week up to fifteen-minutes per call.  The three (3) free calls are available beginning at 7:00 a.m. on Saturday and are associated with the first three calls made during each week and do not carry forward from week to week.  Individuals serving a disciplinary confinement sanction will be provided access to the phone as per policy;
  • Secure Message Stamps - Each incarcerated individual with access to a general confinement tablet and kiosk will continue to receive two (2) free stamps to use for secure messaging per week (this is not available to individuals serving a disciplinary confinement sanction).  Stamps are added to your account on Friday afternoon and do not accumulate and replenish on a weekly basis based on use;
  • Free Pre-paid Reply Wednesdays - Every secure message sent by a friend or family member on Wednesday will be accompanied with a free pre-paid stamp that will allow the incarcerated individual to reply to the sender through June 30, 2021; and
  • Newsstand application - There is no change for this access. The previously enacted free one-month subscription to the Newsstand application has been extended for an additional month. The user must update their tablet to receive the Newsstand app and subscribe to the service before they can download updates.  Updates will be available daily via the kiosk.
 
Reunion Programs
Effective July 29, 2020

The Family Reunion Program will remain closed, but this will be periodically reevaluated with the intention to re-open in a gradual manner.

 
Legal Visits
Effective March 14, 2020

Legal visits will be conducted as non-contact as requests are submitted and that option remains available within the facilities.

 

COMMUNITY SUPERVISION

Community Supervision will take a phased-in approach to re-opening operations across the State. In accordance with the NY FORWARD guidance, we will allow the bureaus to begin re-opening on a regional basis consistent with the NY FORWARD regional Control Center process in regions that have been approved for Phase 2. Each bureau’s re-opening within an approved NY FORWARD designated region will be continually re-evaluated within each re-opening phase:

  • The bureaus will begin to take office reports incrementally in a multi-phased approach;
  • All staff and parolees will be required to wear a mask during the office reports; 
  • A scheduling system will be used for each bureau(s);
  • Each parolee will be scheduled at a rate of one per 30-minute block;
  • Report days will be increased, and report hours expanded, as needed, to minimize density;
  • Staff and parolee will wear a mask during in-person interviews;
  • Staff will monitor and screen all staff, visitors and parolees in accordance with current COVID-19 policy; and
  • Waiting rooms will be demarcated for social distancing.

 

BOARD OF PAROLE

Interviews

The Board of Parole is continuing to conduct interviews and issuing determinations. Decisions will continue to be issued within two weeks of the interview date.

 

COVID-19 Resources

For more information on COVID-19 and New York’s response, visit the following websites

 

New York on PAUSE

New York State is working to reduce the spread of COVID-19. As a further protective measure, Governor Cuomo issued New York State on PAUSE, a 10-point policy to assure safety for everyone. It includes a directive for non-essential businesses statewide to close in-office personnel functions, a temporary ban on all non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason, and steps to ensure the well-being of all New Yorkers.

NYS on pause

 
New York State Department of Health COVID-19 Tracker

Governor Cuomo has launched a new website to provide New York’s comprehensive COVID-19 testing data to the public

DOH COVID-19 Tracker

 
New York State Department of Health COVID-19 Webpage

DOH Covid-19 info

 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 Webpage

CDC COVID-19 INFO