COVID outbreak at the Albany County Jail

Kumi Tucker
Updated: January 18, 2021 06:59 PM
Created: January 18, 2021 05:53 PM

COLONIE - The Albany County Jail is dealing with a COVID outbreak.

"You know what, it's a mess," said Sheriff Craig Apple. "We've done 10 and a half months of outstanding work keeping it out, and somehow it got in, and we knew somehow once it got in, all hell would break loose. It's a congregate setting."

It's not unexpected, but what they were dreading.

As of Monday, at least 22 officers and 51 inmates tested positive so far, and those numbers are expected to go up.

"Staff, maintenance is up there, disinfecting all day every day with backpacks and sanitizing and disinfecting fluid and botanical liquid that disinfects for five days. They're burning right through this stuff. Again, it's an uphill battle," said the sheriff. 

There are 261 of the 336 inmates quarantined. The jail can hold around 1,100.

The department worked with the district attorney and the courts last week to get some low-level offenders out.

"We released a dozen. Prior to releasing that dozen, we test them to make sure we're not releasing somebody on the street that has COVID. They test negative, they got out. Low-level stuff," said Sheriff Apple.

Sheriff Apple says he knows it's a tough situation.

Visitors have not been allowed since the pandemic began in March of last year. Inmates get free video visitation.

Inmates' movements are restricted and with all those quarantined, inmates can't do the work they usually do.

"Right now the staff has chipped in in a huge way," said Sheriff Apple. "They're in the kitchen cooking for the inmates, they're doing the laundry. We have very limited inmate workers right now, so the staff is doing it."

The sheriff says so far, only a few people are symptomatic. They continue to test all the new arrivals coming into the jail.

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