Inmate At Suffolk County Correctional Facility Tests Positive For COVID-19


Update, April 13, 11:14 AM:

As of April 13, 14 people in the sheriff’s office tested positive, according to Sgt. Paul Spinella, and two of those diagnosed already returned to work. Spinella said nine have recovered and are waiting to be cleared, and three are recovering at home with mild-to-moderate symptoms. One deputy also tested positive. There is still just one inmate that tested positive.

Original Story:

April 8 marked one full month since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Suffolk County.

Late in the evening, an inmate at the Suffolk County Correctional Facility in Riverhead became the first inmate case of the novel coronavirus.

The inmate displayed signs of illness and was sent to an area hospital for evaluation. At approximately 11 PM, hospital staff notified the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office that this individual tested positive.

The sheriff’s office had released information regarding the pandemic and its effect on the facility and deputy sheriff operations earlier that day.

As of April 7, 12 Suffolk County correction officers tested positive for COVID-19, along with one deputy sheriff. No sheriff’s office civilian staff tested positive. Of the 12 correction officers, most were working in areas with minimal contact with county inmates.

Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr. began implementing stringent procedures in the first week of March to create physical distance between incoming inmates and the general jail population.

“I have learned in my experience how quickly an infectious disease can make its way through the correctional system,” Toulon told LI News Radio. “It is my goal to implement as many protections to keep our staff and inmates as safe as possible. Our officers are on the front lines of this pandemic and I couldn’t be more pleased with how diligent they are about following safety protocols for everyone’s protection. We have a long way to go with this pandemic, but we are doing very well under these very stressful and difficult circumstances.”

All inmates are housed in a reception area for 14 days upon entry into the jail and consistently monitored for the signs of illness. They are also given appropriate cleaning supplies. On March 17, all in-person visitation was canceled, and more stringent precautions were phased in during subsequent weeks. All correction officers are required to wear appropriate personal protection equipment and have their temperature taken before entering the facility. Deputy sheriffs are also required to wear personal protective equipment.

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