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Second COVID-19 case at Adirondack Correctional

Adirondack Correctional Facility in Ray Brook is seen from Scarface Mountain in June 2013. The buildings were originally built around 1904 as a state hospital for tuberculosis patients. (Provided photo — Marc Wanner, Historic Saranac Lake)

RAY BROOK — A second inmate at Adirondack Correctional Facility has tested positive for COVID-19.

Data from the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision shows that the inmate was positive for the virus as of Wednesday. The inmate was tested after being transferred to the Ray Brook prison for inmates age 55 and up.

The DOCCS data shows that of the 79 tests conducted on the older male inmates incoming from around the state to the medium-security facility in Ray Brook, 78 returned negative and one returned positive.

This is a separate case from the inmate who tested positive earlier this week. That inmate’s test was conducted before he was transferred, which resulted in his positive case being counted toward his prior facility’s total instead of Adirondack Correctional’s.

After this first diagnosis, DOCCS spokesman Thomas Mailey said DOCCS medical staff were identifying potentially exposed individuals, swab-testing them and isolating them while the results are pending.

“If an individual’s test result is positive that person is maintained in isolation for a minimum of 14 days until their symptoms are gone and the individual has had no fever for 72 hours without the aid of medicine,” Mailey wrote in an email.

Adirondack Correctional was recently switched to a medium-security prison specifically for inmates age 55 and up. Before that, for less than two years it was an adolescent offender facility, in light of Raise the Age laws, which raised the age of criminal responsibility to 18 in New York for nonviolent offenders. Before that it was a medium-security adult prison.

Local and statewide prison reform advocates have spent the past week requesting the state to release these inmates, citing health concerns and low rates of recidivism for elderly ex-inmates.

“Our worst nightmare is beginning to come true,” Release Aging People in Prison Associate Director David George wrote in a press release after the first case was announced. “Now that the virus is in the prison, it is going to spread like wildfire. It will needlessly harm and kill elder New Yorkers in prison unless the Governor and state leaders take immediate action to release everyone from the facility.”

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