STORMVILLE, N.Y. – A 62 year-old safety and security officer assigned to Kirby/Manhattan Psychiatric Center died Thursday night after contracting the coronavirus.
The New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association (NYSCOPBA) identified the man as William Plantt. Plantt lived in Brooklyn and had been working as a security officer at Kirby/Manhattan since 2004.
No details are available as to how or when Plantt contracted the virus, but the NYSCOPBA said he died due to complications from COVID-19.
“I would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to William Plantt’s family,” said NYSCOPBA’s VP of Law Enforcement John Harmon. “He was a good man and his death is a tragedy. Like all frontline personnel during this pandemic, William came to work every day knowing the risks associated with his job and did so with professionalism and integrity.”
Harmon said Plantt’s death should send a clear message to the New York Office of Mental Health that all employees need to be provided with personal protective equipment during this crisis.
“Not doing so is an injustice to all the men and women who continue to come to work each day and serve the State of New York,” Harmon said.
In a statement earlier this week, the New York State Department of Corrections said they have a comprehensive pandemic flu protocol that has been modified for COVID-19. Both staff and inmates have received information on preventative measures to stay healthy, including the top recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and the New York Department of Health. Additional measures have also been implemented to restrict who enters the facilities.
Meanwhile, officials announced April 1 that prison staff can bring in and use their own personal protective equipment during work.
James Miller, communications director for the New York State Corrections Officers union, said they are working on ordering things like N-95 masks.
“The union is in the process of purchasing one for every member of NYSCOPA,” he said. “These are necessary steps that we thought needed to take place to safeguard all the front-line employees.”
According to the New York Department of Corrections, as of Thursday, 176 employees have confirmed cases, with 24 positive inmates. In Vermont, the Department of Corrections has reported two cases, both staffers — one in Swanton, one in Newport.