Four Michigan prisoners, three workers test positive for coronavirus

March 25, 2020, 1:18 PM by  Violet Ikonomova

Coronavirus is spreading to the state's crowded correctional facilities. 

The Michigan Department of Corrections reports three inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 while another is awaiting results. All are in isolation and efforts are being made to trace their contacts, the department said.

Two of the prisoners confirmed to have contracted the virus are housed at the Parnall Correctional Facility in Jackson. The prisoner whose status is pending is at the Newberry Correctional Facility in the Upper Peninsula.

An inmate at the Detroit Reentry Center tested positive for the virus but has since been paroled. MDOC says the test result didn't come in until after the person was released March 24. 

Another prisoner originally housed at Kinross Correctional Facility, in the Upper Peninsula, has also tested positive for coronavirus. They've been in the hospital since March 11 and were tested March 17.

Correctional facilities, with tight quarters and limited sanitation options, are particularly susceptible to infectious diseases and could inundate local hospitals in the event of a severe outbreak.

Dozens of prisoners are in quarantine as a result of the cases.

Three MDOC employees have also tested positive for coronavirus. One works at the Thumb Correctional Facility and another at the Detroit Detention Center. A Jackson County probation officer also tested positive, but did not have contact with inmates.

To mitigate the spread of the illness, MDOC has suspended visits and is screening all employees for fever. The department has also made soap freely available.

Spokesman Chris Gautz told Deadline Detroit last week that it could additionally consider releasing select inmates to thin the prison population should the outbreak “continue for a long period of time.”

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