Arizona Dept. of Corrections whistleblower discusses health risks of working in prison during pandemic

Arizona corrections officers are upset that they are not allowed to wear masks on the job - and one of them came forward to talk about the dangers during the coronavirus crisis, urging state leaders to step in.

Prisons have already suspended visitation, but a whistleblower is saying that it's not enough. He says correctional officers are not allowed to wear personal protective equipment, or PPE.

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"We have at least half of our population of inmates...they're sick, with flu-like symptoms," the whistleblowing lieutenant said. "This is going to get worse before it gets better, and they're not being proactive at all."

The complaint alleges social distancing is impossible, and wearing masks or other PPE is forbidden.

"All the complexes, all our staff, we don't wear masks right now because it scares the inmates," the man alleged. "But we haven't had anything in writing as to why we won't, and can't wear masks."

Arizona Department of Corrections director David Shinn says that's not true - they just don't need to wear them yet.

"We have actually come out with guidance for our staff which gives them the opportunity to identify when PPE is required and the level of PPE that is required," said Shinn. 

Shinn says the department has no inmates that have tested positive for the coronavirus.

"We have had 29 inmates tested, 12 pending, and 17 negatives so far," said Shinn.

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The reason why there are zero positive cases, however, is because they're not testing enough people, according to the whistleblower.