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NY prisons will screen visitors for coronavirus
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NY prisons will screen visitors for coronavirus

Auburn Correctional Facility file

Auburn Correctional Facility on State Street in Auburn.

Visitors will be screened for novel coronavirus before entering New York's 52 correctional facilities. 

The state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision said the screening procedures will begin Monday, March 9. When visitors arrive at the prisons, they will be asked if they are ill or are experiencing any symptoms, if they or their family members have traveled outside of the U.S. in the past four weeks and if they've been exposed to anyone diagnosed with coronavirus within the past four weeks. 

There will likely be longer wait times due to the new protocols, according to DOCCS. Visitors may be denied entry if they appear ill or "pose a risk to the health and safety of the facility based on questionnaire responses."

"The health of staff, incarcerated individuals, visitors and volunteers is of utmost importance, and this procedure is being proactively implemented in order to avoid the introduction of COVID-19 into the department's facilities," DOCCS said in a statement. 

The agency added, "The department remains committed to ensuring family and friends are able to visit loved ones, with as limited disruption to the normal visiting process as possible, while also actively working to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in New York state." 

The symptoms of novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, include a cough, fever and shortness of breath. The virus has spread to dozens of countries. 

There were 89 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, or COVID-19, in New York as of Saturday evening. There are thousands of New Yorkers who are either in mandatory or precautionary quarantines. 

Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.

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Online producer and politics reporter

I have been The Citizen's online producer and politics reporter since December 2009. I'm the author of the Eye on NY blog and write the weekly Eye on NY column that appears every Sunday in the print edition of The Citizen and online at auburnpub.com.

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