Dr. Deborah Birx says the U.S.'s mortality demographics are identical to Italy's with regard to older people with preexisting conditions contracting coronavirus.
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Inmates crammed into New York City’s notorious Rikers Island jail complex reportedly have started disturbances and are mixing shampoo and water to clean down surfaces over concerns that officials aren’t doing enough to prevent a coronavirus outbreak there.
The drastic measures come as the island’s 88-bed contagious disease medical unit has been filled to capacity, officials told the New York Times.
“You’re on top of one another no matter what you do,” a former inmate named Jimmy, who recently was released from Rikers, said in an interview with the newspaper. “There’s no ventilation. If anything is floating, everybody gets it.”
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As of Monday, 167 inmates, 114 correction officers and 23 health workers across the city’s jail system are reported to have tested positive for the coronavirus. More than 800 other inmates are being quarantined because someone in their block tested positive, the president of the local correction officers union told the New York Times.
Prison staff, current and former inmates have told the Times an increasingly tense situation is developing at Rikers Island.
The inmates say they have been using diluted shampoo to wipe down doorknobs and surfaces, are refusing to do work assignments and have seen some start disturbances in hopes of obtaining cleaning supplies and masks. Others told the New York Times that the only coronavirus prevention guidance they received from officials was a pamphlet advising them to wash their hands and cough into their arms, while some guards have ignored their requests for medical attention.
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“What we’re going through is inhumane,” current inmate Michael Herrera told the newspaper. “We’re left for dead. We’re just stuck here.”
The prison staff, meanwhile, say they have not received proper protective equipment – or much instruction on how to handle the situation – from their bosses.
However, Department of Correction officials told the New York Times that jail phones are sanitized every two hours and inmates at Rikers have access to soap and cleaning materials.
The city is “doing everything we can to safely and humanely house people in our custody,” added Peter Thorne, the department’s spokesman.
New York City also has been releasing hundreds of inmates to decrease its prison population.