Michigan governor signs executive order requiring COVID-19 testing in prisons, jails

New order: Corrections facilities must test at entry, transfer, release of any prisoner

(Michigan Governors Office)

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order Saturday that will require coronavirus (COVID-19) testing protocols for Michigan Department of Corrections facilities.

Executive Order 2020-170, which is a rescission of Executive Order 2020-146, requires “testing at entry, transfer, and release of any prisoner, and suspends transfers from jails that do not adopt comparable protocols,” according to a press release from Whitmer’s office.

The order is effective immediately for jails that have not resumed inmate transfers. Jails that continued transfers under the previous version of the order have until Sept. 8 to comply.

Any inmate who tests positive for COVID-19 must be isolated within their current facility and given medical treatment.

Juvenile detention centers are encouraged to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure and also implement risk-reducing protocols.

The order also listed the following COVID-19 risk-reduction protocols for the state department and its transfer of inmates:

  • Screen all persons arriving or departing from a facility in a manner consistent with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.
  • Isolate and test any inmate who has one or more of the principal symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, sore throat, a new uncontrolled cough that causes difficulty breathing, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, new onset of a severe headache, and new loss of taste or smell.
  • Open windows and doors, and use fans, to increase air circulation to the extent feasible.
  • Require inmates and staff to wear and mask and practice social distancing.
  • Conduct routine cleaning and sanitization consistent with CDC guidelines, as well as ensure protective laundering protocols are in place.
  • Minimize crowding or gatherings of 10 people or more.

Click here to read the entire executive order.

“Testing is the at the very center of any strategy to keep prison and jail populations safe. By reducing the spread of COVID-19 in prisons and jails, we protect corrections officers and their families, incarcerated people, and the whole community,” Whitmer said. “The Michigan Department of Corrections has been a leader for states across the country in COVID-19 response. We must continue that work to save lives, slow the spread of COVID-19, and ensure the protection of everyone who steps foot in prisons, jails, and juvenile detention centers. By expanding protections for Michigan’s vulnerable populations, we can slow the spread of the virus and save lives.”

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