2 Mich. DOC employees test positive for COVID-19

One employee works at the Detroit Detention Center and the other works at the Jackson County Probation Office


By Paul Egan
Detroit Free Press

LANSING, Mich. — Two Michigan Department of Corrections employees have tested positive for the coronavirus, the agency said Tuesday.

One of the employees works at the Detroit Detention Center, where prisoners are housed. The employee does not have a history of international or domestic travel, the department siad.

The other employee is a probation agent who works at the Jackson County Probation Office and has a recent history of international travel, state officials said in a news release.

They are the first two Michigan Department of Corrections employees to test positive for COVID-19.

"The MDOC has been in contact with the individuals and the department is proactively working to determine any other employees and offenders these individuals have been in contact with," said Heidi Washington, the department director.

“Our primary focus is the health and safety of our staff, the offenders and the public,” she said. “This is a matter we take seriously and are taking the advice of public health professionals and have notified employees who need to be quarantined.”

The Detroit Detention Center operates under an agreement between the Detroit Police Department and the Michigan Department of Corrections and holds detainees for up to 72 hours prior to arraignment. The detainees are arrested by the Detroit Police Department. The offenders are not state prisoners and are not transferred to state prisons, the news release said.

After the probation officer's positive test, the local health department ordered all Jackson County Probation Office staff to leave their work site and quarantine for the next 14 days.

The department is making arrangements for continued supervision of the county's probationers.

Officials also announced the the Jackson County courthouse will be closed through Friday, except for essential services, as part of a public health emergency related to a positive test for COVID-19.

Chris Gautz, a Corrections Department spokesman, said that since the department began screening employees before they report to work inside prisons last week, 35 staff members across the state have been turned away for either having a high temperature or not passing the screening questions. But no staff members who work in prison have tested positive for COVID-19, Gautz said.

One prisoner has been tested for COVID-19 and the test came back negative, Gautz said.

The department suspended visits at all 30 Michigan prisons last week, in an effort to keep the virus outside of prison walls.

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©2020 the Detroit Free Press

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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