Officers before smokers

By John Eckenrode

President, PSCOA

The Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association renews its call for the Wolf administration and the new COVID-19 Vaccine Joint Task Force to prioritize vaccinating corrections officers in state prisons over smokers.

It's one thing to follow CDC guidelines regarding smokers, but that doesn't prevent the administration from making the vaccination of its own corrections officers a higher priority.

Our state prison system continues to be overwhelmed by COVID, but for some reason the Wolf administration has decided to ignore its own corrections officers, who are risking their lives every day in some of the worst conditions of this pandemic.

Recently, more than 800 inmates and officers tested positive at SCI-Forest (Jenks Township, Forest County).

Our members are overworked, exhausted and are working massive amounts of overtime due to COVID-19 illnesses within their ranks. The mental anguish of passing the virus to their loved ones also takes a tremendous toll.

That's why the decision by the administration to put smokers ahead of corrections officers is repugnant. It's our hope the task force will right this wrong and take care of the people working in some of the worst pandemic conditions in this commonwealth.