ALBANY, N.Y. (WWNY) - The New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association (NYSCOPBA) on Monday announced that union president Michael Powers tested positive for COVID-19.
Powers is a sergeant at Riverview Correctional Facility in Ogdensburg and is a member of the Ogdensburg City Council.
In a release, NYSCOPBA said Powers is in regular contact with correction officers from across the state. He has been self-quarantining at his home for the last several days.
The union repeated its call for the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) and the Office of Mental Health (OMH) to take immediate action to prevent further spread of the coronavirus in state prisons and mental health facilities.
Powers says in the release that he is one of 56 correction officers that have tested positive. One is hospitalized with a ventilator. Hundreds more are under self-quarantine.
He added that 35 mental hospital employees are under quarantine. Six have tested positive and two are hospitalized.
7 News anchor John Moore spoke with NYSCOPBA Central Region Vice President Bryan Hluska by phone Monday about Powers’ condition.
“I can tell you he has tested positive for the virus and is sick," said Hluska.
When asked where Powers may have contracted COVID-19, Hluska said, “It’s hard to say. Like he said in his release, he’s in contact with officers from across the state on a regular basis.”
The union warns that state facilities are on the cusp of a wide outbreak. If that happens, the union says, it could lead to a staffing shortage.
“The more it spreads, the more that staff is quarantined, the less staff there is to work the jails. It could be a potential problem, yes,” said Hluska.
NYSCOPBA is asking state officials allow all employees working in correctional facilities, mental health facilities, parole offices, and other essential agencies to use personal protective equipment to help stem the spread. Right now, the union says, only those employees who work in isolated or quarantined units are provided protective gear.
Last week, Ogdensburg’s city manager wrote an open letter to the public about rumors that a city official tested positive for COVID-19.
Sarah Purdy assured residents, workers and visitors that they have not been placed at risk if they recently came to any city facilities.