Essex County Public Safety Academy instructor’s positive COVID-19 test impacts Hudson jail

Nearly twenty new Hudson County correctional officers have been self-quarantined due to an Essex County Public Safety Academy instructor testing positive for COVID-19, according to multiple sources.

NJ Advance Media (NJAM) reported this morning that state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal ordered police recruits to stop training as positive tests for COVID-19 (coronavirus) rise throughout New Jersey, but multiple sources tell Real Garden State there’s more to the story.

According to various law enforcement sources and public officials speaking under the condition of anonymity, an instructor working at the Essex County Public Safety Academy tested positive for the coronavirus – which has caused Hudson County Corrections and Rehabilitation Center (HCC) to order nearly twenty correctional officers that recently graduated from the academy to self-quarantine.

It’s unknown whether or not the instructor’s positive test played any role in Grewal’s order, but the NJAM report noted that “training had soldiered on earlier in the week, in an effort to bolster departments on the front lines of the fast-moving viral outbreak.” Additionally, the report states that 75 people finished the Essex County Public Safety Academy on March 5 and are now working with the Newark Police Department.

Representatives for the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General (NJOAG) declined to respond to an email seeking comment on this story, including questions regarding how many new law enforcement officers around the state have been ordered to self-quarantine because of the instructor’s positive test for coronavirus.

Update from Essex County spokesperson at 6:48 PM (3/21/20): “One of our instructors at the Essex County Police Academy test positive for COVID-19. The health departments of each municipality where the corrections officer cadets and staff reside were notified. Following established protocols, the cadets and staff were directed to self-quarantine. At this time, none have exhibited any symptoms. They also have been told to seek guidance from their local health care provider and their local health department.”

As for HCC, multiple sources with knowledge have expressed dismay with the jail’s leadership and their current work environment. Among other issues, complaints include the lack of COVID-19 testing for correctional officers and staff members alike, the handling of inmates that have been put in medical isolation pending test results, and concerns regarding the HCC’s ventilation system.

“Inmates are being moved around the facility from one area to another area without proper consideration for maintaining sanitary conditions,” one source working in the jail told Real Garden State. “Until they test every correctional officer, staff member, and inmate, it’s hard not to feel anxious and uncertain about the situation.”

Hudson County’s spokesperson declined to respond to an email seeking comment on this story, including questions regarding the number of inmates that are in currently medical isolation pending test results.

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