Over 5,000 corrections officers have contracted COVID-19.
As the novel coronavirus ravages prisons around the country, over 5,000 state and federal correctional officers have tested positive for the virus, data compiled by ABC News shows.
There have been 5,002 cases, including over 4,600 state correctional officers that have contracted the virus, with New York being the state with the most correctional officer cases.
“If you look at how it’s tracked across the globe, you’ll see that this thing runs through a correctional facility like a brushfire, and it doesn’t stop until it runs out of people, basically,” Andy Potter, the executive director of the Michigan Corrections Organization and the founder of the One Voice Initiative, told ABC News.
“We’ve always said we believe that we were behind the eight ball to begin with.”
Potter, whose union represents over 6,000 officers in Michigan, stressed that governors weren’t doing a bad job, but they could “lead a better plan of conversation and communication with those corrections front-line staff.”
Another problem that has been plaguing both federal and state institutions is severe understaffing, a problem that is only amplified by the pandemic.
“The pandemic has completely overrun the system; the system wasn’t operating normally,” said Fausey, who represents over 30,000 officers at prisons around the country. “Now you’ve completely overrun its limited staffing resources. And that’s not even including the staffing shortage we had in medical positions. We’ve had that for quite a few years.”