Reports from Rikers Island jail say coronavirus has spread throughout the prison at alarming rates. Guards and inmates are infected and guards have passed it to their family members at home. The New York Times reported on May 20 that 1,256 guards are infected and 6 are dead from the virus.

Of the city’s 9,680 correction officers and supervisors, 1,259 have contracted the virus. One officer told the New York Times that he did not receive help getting a test and was not allowed to wear a homemade mask while at work. Corrections officers and supervisors are considered essential workers. 545 inmates have also tested positive for the virus, which is highly contagious.

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Corrections officers say that help for their union members came too late. Masks and widespread testing have been recent changes within their ranks and the coronavirus has been spreading for over two months in the city. Reports in March and April shared that the virus was spreading quickly among inmates and to officers but the jails lacked testing, according to officers. A positive test is required to stay away from work, even while many officers had notable coronavirus symptoms. In trying to conserve tests in the early days of the pandemic, many jail systems were left with officers that were ill.

“If we had better leadership, I believe we could have gotten through this a lot easier. I believe there is a possibility, maybe, not as many people would have been affected by this thing,” said Elias Husamudeen, the president of the correction officers union

Read more about protecting yourself from coronavirus. Check the CDC website for more information on how to protect yourself and check our latest article to learn how COVID-19 differs from the flu.

Scientists believe that the spread of COVID-19, or coronavirus, started at an exotic animal market in Wuhan, China. You can help stop the incidence of viruses like these by signing this petition to ban the wildlife trade.

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