51 inmates, 22 staff COVID-19 positive at Albany County Jail

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple is reporting a severe outbreak of COVID-19 at the correctional facility and rehabilitative service center.

“I’m up to 22 staff that are out, that are positive,” Apple told NEWS10, “I’m up to 51 inmates that are positive, and we have 261 currently quarantined in the facility.”

That’s a problem, according to Sheriff Apple. The cases are spread out all over the jail, and they’re running out of space. The hope is that some will finish quarantine soon and general population can begin to merge again. But a number of inmates also serve as kitchen and other duty staff.

“They’ve done a great job. They did a great job for 10 and a half months keeping it out of there,” Apple said, “but we knew all along, similar to a nursing home and congregate setting, once it’s in it’s going to be an issue.”

It’s an issue with new arrivals, too. Cases are popping up in the quarantine tier of the jail where new inmates start out.

Corrections officers are included in phase 1B of vaccine distribution in New York State, but those appointments are hard to come by. Apple says some officers got turned away from vaccinations because they stated they had exposure to COVID while working at the jail. But Apple says they failed to mention that proper PPE was worn in those cases, so transmission was unlikely. 

“We’re going to try and get them signed up, and hopefully the log jam with the vaccines will open up soon,” Apple said.

Apple says officers and civilian workers are disinfecting all day, and he has been working with the district attorney and courts to get low-level inmates released. He says they have released 12 so far, adding that those released are tested first to make sure they are not bringing COVID-19 out on the street. Apple says movement in the facility is restricted, and medical staff is observing those with symptoms.

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