An employee at the Erie County Holding Center has tested positive for the coronavirus. In a time where social distancing is key in curbing the spread, how practical is that behind bars?
“We are extremely fortunate that our headcount is significantly under our maximum facility capacity. So our holding center is at 47% capacity, our correctional facility is at 39% capacity," said Erie County Jail Management Superintendent Thomas Diina. "So that allows us greater flexibility to facilitate that social distancing with respect to inmate movement and housing unit assignments”
Superintendent Diina said that while the jail system has no direct authority on the intake or release of inmates, the Sheriff’s Office is active in trying to minimize the amount of unneeded incarcerations.
“We are working with the courts, with New York State Parole, and with legal aide," Diina said. "Providing them with whatever information that they need, and support them in their efforts to get anyone released from this facility who does not absolutely need to be here.”
According to the Division of Correctional Health, 10 inmates have been isolated in special housing units after either close contact with the positive employee, or after self-reporting to holding center medical staff. As of publishing date, none of the inmates showed signs of COVID-19 symptoms