COVID closes Gouverneur village offices, spreads at prison

WWNY COVID closes Gouverneur village offices, spreads at prison

GOUVERNEUR, N.Y. (WWNY) - Gouverneur village offices have shut down and COVID cases are on the rise at Gouverneur Correctional Facility.

For the second time in 2020, village offices in Gouverneur are closed to the public. Many village employees are working from home.

“Computers, the internet, Zoom calls, email, we can still do business, so to speak, but not have the public come in and out,” said Mayor Ron McDougall.

The mayor says local businesses are also doing their part to stop community spread.

“Bank lobbies and such, lawyer offices, they’re cutting back and controlling in line with all this,” he said.

Meanwhile at Gouverneur Correctional Facility, union officials say 35 staff members are in quarantine, including 23 security workers. Nine are COVID-positive.

Of the 12 civilian workers, two have the virus.

The big concern for the union? Staffing.

“There’s nine officers out of work right there that are going to be out due to COVID and won’t be able to return until another test, but now you’ve got the other 23 that are quarantined,” said Michael Powers, New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association president.

Powers says bringing in staff from other facilities isn’t possible.

“One, contractually, they can’t do it. And two, it would be very difficult for somebody who works in one correctional facility to go to another, because each facility is different,” he said.

But an even bigger concern is what Powers believes is driving the cases - visitation.

“We’ve got a lot of people that are traveling these roads, coming from areas that are seeing surges in COVID cases, and that’s a genuine concern,” he said.

McDougall says he doesn’t know when village offices will open back up, but for now, he says, “Stay safe, but be kind to one another.”

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