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Examining COVID-19 protocols at the Niagara County Correctional Facility

niagara county correctional facility
Posted at 6:12 PM, Jan 28, 2021

LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WKBW) — A federal inmate at the Niagara County Correctional Facility wanted to bring awareness to safety protocols at the jail with a post on Facebook in early January.

Michael McDonald said he has some underlying health conditions and is worried about the level of testing and the safety measures in place.

“The only way that they’ll test someone if someone is if showing symptoms,” said McDonald by phone. “They come around once a week and do temperature checks.”

Chief Jail Administrator Daniel Greenwald said that’s partially true, but there are additional protocols in place if positive is found.

Inmates are not tested unless they show symptoms and if a positive is found everyone in that inmates housing unit is tested and quarantined.

McDonald took issue with the measures for quarantining inmates which is confinement for 14 days in a COVID-positive housing unit.

Since the pandemic began Greenwald said there have been 67 positive cases and more than 350 tests performed with zero deaths.

He also said he feels people may want to portray a misconception of inmates not receiving top care, but he believes they have access to excellent medical care, if needed.

“They have more access to the medical professionals, the doctors even dental and I won’t even get into mental health than you and I do who aren’t incarcerated individuals.”

Masks were not mandatory until recently in the facility. Each inmate is provided with two cloth masks upon entry, but Greenwald says they’ve tightened up enforcement of that.

“I would say prior to December, it was ‘we highly encourage inmates to wear their masks outside their cells’,” said Greenwald. “It’s mandatory now.”

McDonald says inmates are hoping for more proactive testing, additional screenings, and more cleanliness in common spaces.

Greenwald maintains disinfectants are provided in common spaces at all times and inmates are encouraged to wash hands regularly.

He said the jail is updating its protocols weekly as new guidance and access to testing or other materials comes in.