Whitmer order requires COVID-19 testing in Michigan prison, jails

(Matthias Schrader, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order Saturday requiring jails and prisons to test inmates for COVID-19 when they enter, transfer from or are released from their facilities.

The order also requires jails to adopt testing protocols comparable to those at the Michigan Department of Corrections before they can transfer prisoners to state facilities.

“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.

Jails that have already resumed transfers to state facilities under a prior executive order have until Sept. 8 to comply, Whitmer's office said in a news release. The state will provide support for testing by jails through the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, it said.

The order was issued as the Department of Corrections deals with 435 active COVID-19 cases, its largest spike since the spring. Most of those cases are in the Muskegon Correctional Facility, where an outbreak began three weeks ago.