MUSKEGON, MI – Just one week after the first person incarcerated in a Muskegon prison began showing symptoms of COVID-19, mass testing at the facility has so far revealed 155 positive cases.
It is a significant outbreak in a prison that holds just over 1,200 men.
On Friday, the Muskegon Correctional Facility, at 2400 Sheridan Drive, conducted 447 tests in two units in the prison where coronavirus cases had previously been confirmed, according to Chris Gautz, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC).
Throughout the day on Tuesday, 1
Of the remaining tests, 309 were negative and two were unclear and will be tested again, he said.
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Prior to the return test results, the MDOC had reported 19 positive cases in the prison, bringing the total official outbreak in the prison to 155 cases. Prison officials first told the detained population, via an internal messaging system, that the facility was under effective quarantine, after identifying the first, symptomatic cases, on 28 July.
People are now being moved through the prison within their units, without interaction in the dining room or garden with prisoners from different units, and all programming, including classes and treatment of subjects, has been interrupted.
The majority of the sick prisoners are asymptomatic, Gautz said.
Another 762 people from the remaining units were tested on Tuesday, according to Gautz. MDOC expects to see these results by the end of the week.
Two prison staff have also tested positive for the virus, and the quarantine at home, he added.
Those sent out will be monitored and remain in hospital facilities until they test negative and wait 30 days from the onset of their infection, Gautz said.
Prisoners whose test results have not yet returned will be isolated if they have had close contact, such as sharing a cell, with a known COVID-19 patient, he said. He could not identify where in the Muskegon facility these prisoners were being isolated, but said it would have been under an action plan that every state prison was told to develop in April, as the virus quickly spread through the state.
The Muskegon plant had so far avoided seeing coronavirus enter its walls, with a mass test in May that did not occur. With these numbers, the Muskegon facility now has one of the worst outbreaks in the state, according to MDOC numbers, and the proportion of sick prisoners is likely to grow as more testing takes place.
Other significant outbreaks, which infect at least 200 inmates, have taken place at the Charles Egeler Reception and Guidance Center, G. Robert Cotton Prison and Parnall Prison, all in Jackson, Gus Harrison War Facility in Adrian, Lakeland Prison, Warren Combumb Prison Correctional Facility in Lapeer and Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti.
Prisons are particularly susceptible to the virus due to the cramped and divided nature of space, with residents sharing small cells, garden space, showers and restaurants and recreational spaces.
Muskegon Correction Facility officials say prisoners have been given access to cleaning supplies, including allowing bleach, a previously banned substance, back into prison to disinfect common areas.
According to MDOC numbers, 68 people have been imprisoned across the state and two prison staff have died of COVID-19.
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