An employee at New York’s Sing Sing Correctional Facility tested positive for the coronavirus Tuesday, with the results of two others’s tests pending.
"People are really worried," Sing Sing inmate Jermaine Archer told NBC News. "I was still in Sing Sing for 9/11, and I remember that, and people have the same looks on their faces when I walk by."
Archer, who is serving 22 years to life, told the network inmates had not been informed of any contingency plans for an outbreak within the facility.
"It's more like concern and worry, like helplessness," he said, "What can we do with someone else's mercy? The biggest concern, again, is what is the contingency plan?"
The confirmation comes as numerous prisons and jails contemplate how to address the virus amid warnings against overcrowding. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced on Monday that it has reduced its inmate population by over 600 people and cut its daily number of arrests from about 300 to 60, the network reported.
New York’s Corrections Department, meanwhile, has banned all visitations through April 11, and said it is complying with health guidelines and is doing everything in its power to determine who the employee who tested positive may have had direct contact with. The facility houses about 1,300 inmates.
"This is going to be absolutely catastrophic inside prisons, particularly with the U.S. having an aging population," Bianca Tylek, executive director of Worth Rises, a nonprofit advocacy organization focused on prison labor, told the network. "The circumstances for folks who are incarcerated are remarkably grave."