At least two uniformed Department of Correction staffers, including a captain who works directly with detainees, have contracted monkeypox, sources familiar with the matter told The Post Friday.
One of the staffers, who the DOC said does not work in a jail on the island, tested positive on Thursday and has been isolating in accordance with medical guidelines, the agency said.
It’s not immediately clear when the captain contracted the virus but at the time they did, they were working inside one of the DOC’s jails, sources said.
“We take the health and safety of people who work and live in our facilities seriously, and have been working with our partners at Correctional Health Services to mitigate any potential spread of monkeypox should cases arise. This partnership and hard work has kept our facilities safe,” a DOC spokesperson said in an email.
As of Thursday, no detainees have contracted monkeypox, according to Correctional Health Services, but jailhouse sources said it’s only a matter of time before the virus spreads among inmates considering the close contact many of them have.
“This is definitely going to take over Rikers Island like COVID,” one source said.
When detainees enter DOC custody, they undergo a monkeypox screening during the intake process and if they are suspected of having the virus, they are placed in medical quarantine, tested and observed, Correctional Health Services said. Testing and vaccines for the virus are also available on-site, they said.
The DOC said they are following all recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local health departments and are cleaning and disinfecting areas where positive workers were present.
On Thursday, President Biden declared a nationwide public health emergency over the growing monkeypox outbreak, which allows the federal government to increase its response to the virus without the usual regulatory red tape.
The epicenter of the outbreak is in the Big Apple, which has registered more than 1,700 cases as of Friday, accounting for about a quarter of the cases reported nationwide, data show.
Monkeypox is known to cause fever, aches and bumps or sores on the body.
It primarily spreads through drawn-out skin-to-skin contact and gay and bisexual men are the primary demographic to be affected so far.