Correctional officers express concern over lack of protective gear

Published: Apr. 17, 2020 at 10:15 PM EDT
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By: Elizabeth Millner | WCTV Eyewitness News

April 17, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The Bureau of Prisons has confirmed

The prison workers union, AFGE 1570, is raising concerns that other staff may have been exposed and are not equipped with proper protective gear.

“This isn’t a proper N-95, it says KN-95, it’s none reusable, it’s very thin, it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t seal,” said AFGE 1570 union president, Ray Coleman.

He said they are not getting the proper equipment to protect themselves and inmates.

“Proper PPE, proper N95 masks, proper sanitation materials and chemicals, that’s what we are really shooting for. We’ve gotten some of that but a lot of the stuff is just sub-par,” he said. “They don’t have the best filtration system so it really does no good in wearing the masks."

The Bureau of Prisons are disputing that claim, by releasing a statement that said proper masks are being distributed and used according to CDC guidelines.

It reads in part: “The BOP maintains a national supply of approved Personal Protective Equipment and field sites may also purchase such supplies locally if needed. Based on the information we are aware of, no counterfeit masks have been issued for use by staff at FCI Tallahassee.”

Union vice president, Kristan Morgan, is also asking that all 200 employees at the prison be offered testing for COVID-19.

“That’s up to the discretion of the employee and their primary care doctor, the prison is not offering any testing for employees,” she said.

The union said those same masks have been shipped to other prison institutions in Florida.

The Bureau of Prisons said as a nationwide system, it does transfer resources to places of greater need.