Coronavirus News: DOC officers accuse city leadership of not doing enough to protect them amid COVID-19

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Employees with the New York City Department of Correction have repeatedly complained the city is not doing enough to protect them amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday, the Correction Officer's Benevolent Association blasted the city for giving 30,000 masks to firefighters, while Union President Elias Husamudeen indicated correction officers have struggled to obtain basic personal protective gear.

Then Tuesday, two protesters stood outside the entrance to Rikers, the city's jail, with a coffin and signs that read, "We keep NYC Safe, Who is keeping us safe?"

More than 800 DOC employees have tested positive for coronavirus and nine had died, according to the city.

"COBA had to purchase 40,000 masks on our own several weeks ago because the DOC was doing nothing to help our members," Husamudeen said in a statement. "Now we learn that thousands of masks were sitting in a storehouse on Rikers the whole time. This revelation is yet another example of DOC's negligence and willful indifference to the suffering of our members."

DOC Commissioner of Public Information Peter Thorne released the following statement:

"We care deeply about the health and wellbeing of our staff and those in their care, and we are providing masks and gloves to all personnel, as well as masks to all people in custody. We have a sufficient supply and there are protocols in place to ensure that PPE is regularly replenished."

The Mayor's Office did not respond to requests from Eyewitness News for comment.

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