Protesting inmates refuse to return to cells at Mich. prison

"They felt that they had not been given their individualized COVID-19 test results from our private healthcare provider," MDOC spokesman Chris Gautz said


By Gus Burns
MLive.com

ADRIAN, Mich. — Some inmates at a Michigan prison where nearly one third of the population has tested positive for the coronavirus caused a disturbance Tuesday when they refused to return to their cells, Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Chris Gautz said.

The Michigan Department of Corrections reported an explosion in confirmed coronvirus cases at Gus Harrison Correctional Facility in Lenawee County’s Adrian Monday, May 18. The facility with capacity to house 2,362 prisoners had 716 confirmed cases and three deaths as of Tuesday.

“We believe the reason why they were protesting is that they felt that they had not been given their individualized (coronavirus) test results from our private health care provider ... " Gautz said. “That should have already happened and so we made sure with ... leadership that was going to happen immediately ...

“We had already moved prisoners who were positive and negative but they wanted their individual results ... That is being done and everything, as far as I know, is back to normal.”

Gautz said there had been “ridiculous and wild rumors” that 18 prisoners had escaped.

Following the disturbance, an emergency count was conducted and all prisoners were accounted for, Gautz said.

The MDOC, with assistance from the Michigan National Guard and contracted health providers, is attempting to test every inmate for the coronavirus. After administering 35,650 tests, 3,089 -- nearly 9% -- had tested positive. There have been 56 prisoner deaths attributed to COVID-19.

Additionally, 336 correctional officers have tested positive and three have died.

State officials on Monday, after reporting 773 new coronavirus cases in Michigan, attributed 513 of those to enhanced testing at prison facilities.

Cases of the virus in correctional facilities make up almost 6 percent of the state’s total.

The overall statewide count was up to 52,350 Tuesday, state health officials said, with 5,017 deaths.

COVID-19 PREVENTION TIPS

In addition to washing hands regularly and not touching your face, officials recommend practicing social distancing, assuming anyone may be carrying the virus.

Health officials say you should be staying at least 6 feet away from others and working from home, if possible.

Use disinfecting wipes or disinfecting spray cleaners on frequently-touched surfaces in your home (door handles, faucets, countertops) and carry hand sanitizer with you when you go into places like stores.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has also issued an executive order requiring people to wear face coverings over their mouth and nose while inside enclosed, public spaces.

Additional information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

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©2020 MLive.com, Walker, Mich.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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