31 Suffolk County Correctional Workers Out With COVID-19: Sheriff – Patch

SUFFOLK COUNTY, NY — After the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office canceled its Open House and Family Day due to COVID-19 and staff shortages, new protocols were announced Friday to handle the delta variant.
The event was slated to take place Sunday in Yaphank.
A representative for Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon said as of Friday, there were 31 staff members out with COVID-19.
According to data on Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon’s website, a total of 98 inmates in the Suffolk County Correctional facilities have had COVID-19; 79 contracted the virus in jail and 19 contracted COVID-19 before they were incarcerated.
Like all Suffolk County residents, the sheriff’s office is currently navigating the turbulent waters of this wave of the pandemic,” an announcement about the cancellation read. “The delta variant is proving to be highly contagious and the numbers of residents currently infected with COVID-19 continue to rise. As a result of COVID infections among staff and an increase in retirements, we are presently facing staff constraints at the Suffolk County Correctional Facility.”
The open house and family day, a popular event, requires staff the facility does not have now due to shortages; to address the staffing shortage, the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office is currently recruiting new correction officers for its facilities in Riverhead and Yaphank. The civil service exam for the position is being given on November 13; the deadline to register is October 6.
As of Friday, new protocols were unveiled, Toulon said.
Inmates continue to be monitored for the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 by the jail medical unit. Inmates who test positive are housed in a special quarantine pod and are seen by jail medical a minimum of three times a day, he said.
Inmates deemed to have had a possible exposure to COVID-19 or who have returned from the hospital are housed in a quarantine pod and are also checked by medical staff multiple times a day. New intake inmates are also quarantined upon entry into the facility. All inmates in quarantine must test negative to be moved back to the general population, Toulon said.
All inmates are issued two washable face masks. They are laundered as needed and are replaced as needed, he said. Inmates are required to wear them whenever they are out of their cells. To date, the facility has produced more than 42,000 of the cloth masks in-house through the inmate sewing program, Toulon said.
“There is frequent cleaning in all areas and inmates are issued cleaning supplies to keep their areas cleaned. All supply levels are checked daily and replenished when needed,” Toulon said.
Staff members have temperatures taken upon entering the building and must always wear face coverings, regardless of vaccination status, Toulon said. Lineups are suspended and officers report directly to their posts to avoid assembling a crowd of officers. The officer cafeteria remains open for meals but there is no seating. Officers take their meals back to their posts. The officer fitness center is open on a strict schedule with frequent sanitizing periods, Toulon said.
Pistol licensing has returned to normal operation, he added.
As for visitation, all visits are currently booth visits and do not require any proof of vaccination because they are non-contact. All attorney visits are being conducted in booths and are also non-contact so no proof of vaccination is needed. Masks are still required and the booths are disinfected after each session, Toulon said.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, only one housing unit can be in one area of the facility at a time. Religious services are permitted inside the facility, Toulon said. The Department of Labor is still meeting with inmates; BOCES conducts classes daily and nightly twice a week. The rehabilitation unit has been running a mobile notary service and mobile library book cart, he said.
The Learning Center is running, but slower than usual due to the housing separation restrictions; counseling services and the Fatherhood Initiative meet via Zoom; Council for Unity and New Hour meet with inmates via WEBEX, Toulon said.
In April, the first inmate, and a dozen Suffolk County correction officers tested positive for the coronavirus, Toulon said.