The Elmira Correctional Facility in New York was reporting 588 positive COVID-19 tests among a total population of 1,515 as of Tuesday. As detailed in a CBS News report on the widely criticized conditions on Wednesday night, that means nearly 40 percent of the inmates at the state prison currently have COVID-19.
The prison put added lockdown measures in place earlier this month, resulting in inmates mostly being confined to their cells. Visitors are not currently allowed. Several people interviewed for Wednesday's report say that loved ones who are housed in the facility have seen their daily half-hour calls reduced to "brief, intermittent calls" only a few minutes in length and often days apart.
Frustration has also been expressed regarding how the prison is handling its tests. While it's believed that most of the population has been tested on at least occasion, those with loved ones in the facility have not been told anything about retesting plans.
Conditions at the facility have inspired protests, as well as public calls from prison reform advocates for their coronavirus-related concerns to be addressed.
The New York Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement, whose aim is to bring about "sweeping reform" of the state's reliance on solitary confinement and extreme isolation, has demanded that Governor Andrew Cuomo take immediate action aimed at saving lives. Their recommendations include granting clemency for anyone considered medically vulnerable, improving testing and transparency, and more.