First off, Thank you for the work you do everyday to accomplish our agency mission and more importantly, support each other.
The first week of May recognizes many service-relatedcommemorations that directly pertain to us and our work.
This week is Public Service Recognition Weeka time where we are recognized as civil servants dedicated to keeping the public safe, caringfor its citizens, preventing the spread of disease and so much more.
It is also the start of National Nurses Weekand our nurses are some of the key individuals standing with us on the front lines in thebattle against COVID-19.
The World Health Organization has even designated2020 as the Year of the Nurse.
Most importantly though, for us, is recognitionof Correctional Workers Week.
Traditionally, during this week we are recognizedfor our vital role in the criminal justice system; one of the toughest beats in law enforcement.
It is a time for the public to note that correctionalorganizations throughout the world, work tirelessly to keep inmates safe and secure, and playan integral role in helping inmates who want to make positive changes in their lives.
As correctional workers, we exemplify professionalism, integrity and strength in the face of difficult and dangerous situations.
This year is unlike any year we have experiencedwithin the Bureau, and while I commend you for your dedication and commitment to correctionsthis week, and every week, our commemoration, which is otherwise a week of activities, ismuted in recognition of COVID-related cautions.
Heroes have and continue to work in our agency, and we will celebrate each of you as soon as we can, but for now we need to postponeour usual Correctional Workers Week activities and recognition events.
Let me briefly mention some things happeningin the Bureau and around the nation.
First, I want to acknowledge the amazing workbeing done in our UNICOR factories.
During the month of April, Federal PrisonIndustries made and distributed over one million face masks! One month! After ensuring all field locations receivedtheir supply, the masks were disseminated in the Central and Regional Offices for staffto wear.
The mask I am wearing today, is the 1 millionthmask, made at FCI Waseca late last week.
Thank you to the Waseca staff and inmatesand all Unicor factories for your hard work and dedication to public safety.
As I prepared for this week's message, thereare more than 2, 060 inmates with current confirmed positive lab results for COVID-19.
And, 561 inmates have recovered.
The number of staff recoveries is also climbing;more than 149 staff have recovered.
We continue to offer support and prayers forthe 356 staff who currently have confirmed positive lab results.
I would like to clarify some information youmay be hearing regarding positive COVID cases within the agency.
As more testing opportunities become available, the Bureau will continue to increase testing to include asymptomatic inmates.
For example, at this time last week, roughly2, 700 inmates had been tested.
The vast majority were asymptomatic and approximately70% tested positive for COVID-19.
This number, however, is no way representativeof a positive rate across the agency.
We have 142, 000 inmates in 122 facilities.
Currently, only 51 of our institutions, lessthan half, have been affected by COVID-19.
Of those, only 15 have an outbreak with morethan 20 active, lab-confirmed, positive inmate cases and only 5 institutions have more than20 active, positive staff cases.
It is important to note, just like in communitiesacross the country with COVID-19 outbreaks, increased testing will result in higher positiverates.
Thus far, we have deployed 299 secondary lawenforcement officers from Central Office, Grand Prairie, Glynco and the National CorrectionsAcademy, in addition to the 120 Health Services and Public Health Service staff, to assistat field locations experiencing staffing challenges.
In some cases, several staff have deployedtwice and others have volunteered to extend their deployment.
I also want to applaud the primary LEOs whohave been deployed to assist fellow institutions.
Future deployments are anticipated as COVID-19outbreaks continue to occur and I thank everyone for their continued dedication to serve.
In accordance with the Attorney General'sguidance, we continue to review inmates with COVID risk factors and make determinationsregarding their suitability for home confinement.
Balancing public safety and public healthis a difficult, but necessary, task.
Since March 26th, we placed an additional2, 144 inmates on home confinement.
That is an increase of nearly 70% in six shortweeks.
In order to protect the public, as we identifypotential priority candidates for Home Confinement, they will start the required 14 day quarantineprocess, regardless of whether they have been officially approved.
This step should enable those inmates whoare approved, and have a verified suitable living situation, to move out of the facilityand begin Home Confinement as soon as possible.
Let me finish with this thought.
It is time for us to change the negative narrativeused by people who stand outside our environment and offer constant criticism and no solutionsto the unique challenges presented during this pandemic.
COVID is like no disease seen to-date andthe response worldwide has been ever-evolving.
The Corrections profession is a noble oneand its story must be told by the professionals doing the job and those supporting that effort.
We must continue to highlight our achievements.
We must continue to support one another andshine a positive light on our profession and our dedication to public safety and correctionalexcellence.
Each of you deserve the respect and honorof being a public servant and law enforcement officer who put your life on the line everytime you report for duty, regardless of COVID.
Stay healthy, be safe and work together toaccomplish our mission.
Together we are stronger; together we aremaking the difference.