NYSCOPBA announced on Monday its Union President Michael Powers tested positive for COVID-19 and the union is calling for safety reform within the system during this pandemic.
The New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association is asking the state to allow all employees working in parole offices, correctional and mental health facilities, and other essential agencies to use personal protective equipment.
Currently, only employees who work in isolated or quarantined units are provided with PPEs like N95 masks, gloves and disposable smocks.
NYSCOPBA is pushing for all employees be provided with this equipment.
"Too much time has already passed. Every day we are discovering more positive tests for COVID-19. The State must act now before it is too late, and we’re faced with a bigger crisis inside the state’s prison and mental health systems,” said NYSCOPBA President Michael B. Powers.
So far, around 56 state correction officers and sergeants have tested positive for COVID-19.
One of the officers is hospitalized and requires the use of a ventilator. Six Office of Mental Health employees tested positive for the virus and out of those, two are hospitalized.
Hundreds more are in quarantine. NYSCOPBA says that if cost is the issue, it will cover the cost of this protective gear.
However, Governor Andrew Cuomo has said that this protective gear is extremely hard to purchase. Cuomo says the state is competing with other states for gear as simple as N95 masks and that prices have spiked over the past few months.
There has been a call across the state to donate all medical equipment to the "front-lines," medical professionals fighting the coronavirus.
NYSCOPBA is also seeking increased testing for staff, inmates and patients.Powers has been self-quarantining at his home for the last several days.