New York should end in-person visits at state prisons in order to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in the facilities, North Country Rep. Elise Stefanik on Thursday said in a statement.

Stefanik's call to end prison visits comes as the virus is once again surging in New York and around the country. Unlike the spring surge, the virus is leading to increased hospitalizations statewide, including upstate communities where hospital bed space is more limited than in New York City.

The North Country in particular is home to several prison facilities in older communities where a trip to the hospital can take hours by car.

“I have spoken directly with countless correction officers who are rightfully concerned about the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in our North Country prisons," Stefanik in the statement.

"The state must take proactive measures to stop in-person prison visits as a method of reducing exposure for the inmates and the correction officers. I continue to remain in close contact with our county public health officials to monitor this situation, and I urge the Governor to take immediate action to keep our inmates, corrections officers, and their families safe.”

Her call to end the visits was backed by corrections officers union officials.

“As COVID-19 cases continue to surge throughout the state and new restrictions on the public are inevitable, now is the time for the Governor and DOCCS to stop all visitations, unnecessary programs and transportation, to help stop the spread of the virus in state prisons,” said John Roberts, the northern region vice president for NYSCOPBA, the union that represents corrections officers in New York. “Staff have been essential employees from day one of the pandemic and they deserve to have the safest work environment possible.”