NY jail on lockdown after outbreak hits staff, inmates

Around 60 inmates and 25 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19


By Eduardo Medina
Times Union

ALBANY, N.Y. — The Albany County jail will be on lockdown for the next 29 days after a recent outbreak of coronavirus among prisoners and jail staff, causing two inmates to be sent to the jail's infirmary with more severe symptoms, said Sheriff Craig Apple.

Around 60 inmates and 25 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19, and of the approximately 330 people currently incarcerated at the jail, about 270 are in quarantine, Apple said.

"We knew once it got in here, it would spread like wildfire," Apple said.

Most of the quarantined inmates are in individual cells. Those who have tested positive are moved to a separate building with solid doors on the cells, Apple said.

When 12 correctional officers tested positive earlier this month, Apple told the Times Union that he didn't "expect any outbreak, whatsoever."

Now, inmates can only communicate with their lawyers over the phone and make video visitation calls, and those who have tested positive are "being housed in the same area" of the jail, Apple said. Inmates who haven't tested positive are also being restricted to their jail cells, Apple said.

Apple said District Attorney David Soares has released 12 inmates who were alleged to have committed low-level crimes, and they tested negative before being released, he added.

This is the first outbreak of coronavirus in the jail since the pandemic began, Apple said.

Apple previously told the Times Union that he would only test inmates if they showed symptoms. On Wednesday, he estimated that 95 percent of the inmates who tested positive were asymptomatic. WRGB Ch. 6 was the first to report the lockdown.

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(c)2021 the Times Union (Albany, N.Y.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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