DETROIT – Almost half of the men incarcerated at a western Michigan prison have tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), according to a newspaper report.
Roughly 47%, or 612 of 1,296 prisoners at Muskegon Correctional Facility, have tested positive as of last Thursday, according to the Detroit Free Press. Fifteen staff members have also tested positive.
Since March, 4,620 of 37,497 state prisoners have tested positive and 68 prisoners have died.
Some prisoners are blaming the prison for an inadequate response to the virus and fear further spread, but prison officials say they've taken proper safety steps.
Holly Kramer, communications representative for the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC), made the following statement Friday:
“As soon as we were aware of the emergence of new positive cases at Muskegon, we put plans in place for large scale and facility wide testing, so we could know exactly who may be carrying the virus even if they were not showing symptoms and we could continue to take steps to protect the health and well-being of prisoners, especially those most vulnerable. We have conducted multiple rounds of testing at Muskegon, including testing prisoners who previously tested negative yesterday. We have also offered multiple rounds of testing to staff with additional staff testing next week.
“We are separating those who test positive from those who are negative as expeditiously as possible. Any prisoners who tested positive were isolated as soon as possible after we learned of their results and were quarantined to designated areas away from general population/those who tested negative. We’ve also put other enhanced measures in place including quarantining all units and having health care staff walk through the units to watch for patients with symptoms and provide information to prisoners on COVID-19 signs and symptoms. We continue to urge prisoners to report any symptoms they have, require prisoners and staff to wear masks at all times, and appropriate PPE when necessary, encourage social distancing as much as is possible and have enhanced cleaning and screening measures in place.”
Michigan health officials on Sunday reported 768 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and four related deaths. Overall, the state has reported 96,792 confirmed positive cases and 6,393 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
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