Cluster worries grow at Brocton site
Since the afternoon of Dec. 30, the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision has not allowed visitation across the state — including Lakeview Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility in Brocton.
This, however, has not slowed a recent COVID-19 surge among those being held in confinement. According to the most recent state numbers available through Friday, 49 inmates at the location have tested positive — all in the last eight weeks. This has some in the north county community voicing concerns that a second cluster of cases involving the employees is occurring at the minimum security level facility for males and females.
In mid December, at least 13 employees tested positive while another 35 were in quarantine.
When those numbers were announced by officials with the New York State Corrections Officers Benevolent Association, it was apparent there was a definite division between staff at the campus. Those close to the situation indicate one segment of the workers has a sentiment of precaution and worry about the virus. Another, however, is not always adhering to distancing and facial coverings.
According to the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, these are some of the measures in place to ensure the safety and well-being of staff, incarcerated individuals, and parolees:
— Mandating all staff to wear face masks while on duty.
— Supplying all incarcerated individuals with surgical-type masks.
— Supplying incarcerated individuals subject to isolation and quarantine with surgical-type masks.
Those who spoke to the OBSERVER on the condition of anonymity, however, say these protocols can be lax at times at the Brocton site. As for staff members currently being impacted by the virus, the numbers are not being released by the state.
“The department makes public the confirmed number of staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 and the confirmed number of staff deaths due to the virus, however for security reasons the numbers are not broken down by facility,” said Thomas Mailey, a department spokesman, in December.
Of all the inmates who have tested positive at the facility, the department notes that there have been 22 who have recovered. All of these cases occurred after the first cluster was reported to the OBSERVER last month.
On Saturday afternoon, The Buffalo News reported the COVID outbreaks at the Wende Correctional Facility in Alden and Wyoming County Correctional Facility have led to lawsuits from inmates seeking to be released as positive cases grow throughout the system.
Locally, besides Lakeview, Gowanda has reported 67 positive cases with 38 in Collins. Gowanda Correctional Facility, it was announced in December, will be closing at the end of March.
About 500 people are employed at the Brocton facility, which is located at 9300 Lakeview Ave.