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State Sen. Michael Testa. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Testa calls for probe into DOC’s COVID response

By Nikita Biryukov, April 23 2020 9:11 am

State Sen. Michael Testa called for an investigation in to the Department of Corrections’ handling of the COVID-19 crisis Thursday.

“The Department of Corrections has failed to protect its inmates, correction officers and the communities where the officers live with their families,” Testa said. “It is indefensible. Due to close confines and the extremely viral nature of COVID-19, the health of all who work or are incarcerated in NJDOC’s facilities must be the highest priority. This is a potentially fatal illness that must be contained effectively.”

At least 14 inmates and a number of correctional facility guards and medical staff have died to the virus in the months since the first case of the virus appeared in New Jersey.

More precise data on deaths and cases of COVID-19 in the state’s prisons and jails has not been released with the same regularity as information about the virus’s growth outside of the same.

Testa wants the state to add information about prison cases to its COVID-19 dashboard.

Separately, the senator is sponsoring a bill that would require the state Department of Health to provide testing for all of the New Jersey’s first responders, including corrections officers.

“Our nurses and doctors, first responders and law enforcement should never be denied testing, especially when they believe they are symptomatic,” Testa said. “They are on the front lines each and every day. They 100 percent deserve our protection from coronavirus.”

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