Prisons, jails on alert for spread of coronavirus

Published: Mar. 6, 2020 at 5:59 PM EST
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The nation’s jails and prisons are on high alert for the new coronavirus, and that includes New York.

In New York state there are now 33 confirmed cases -- none in the North Country. Prison officials say preventing the spread to inmate populations is a top priority.

New York State corrections officials say new protocols for visitors will begin Monday. They say upon arrival, visitors will be asked a series of questions on their health and recent travel.

Clinton County Jail officials say they haven't stopped visitations but they are deep cleaning after visits.

"If it starts to become a major issue and the percentage of people contracting the coronavirus here in this community really increases we will have to evaluate that as needed. But right now I think to take the universal precautions to prepare our environment to be as clean as possible and to coach and work with our staff and the people coming and let them know what we are trying to do -- I think that should help us out quite a bit," said Clinton County Sheriff David Favro.

The Prisons and jails are seeing a much smaller population with the new bail reform law. Sheriff Favro says those empty rooms allow for spaces they could use to isolate an inmate if they needed to.

New York prison visitors are also likely to experience longer wait times and may be denied entry if they look sick or pose a risk to the facility.