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First Michigan prisoner tests positive for COVID-19

Dave Nakayama
FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

A Michigan prisoner who was sent to the hospital earlier this month has tested positive for  COVID-19. The inmate was taken to a hospital on March 11th for medical care unrelated to the new coronavirus. 

The prisoner was at that hospital for almost a week. Then he was transferred to a second hospital.

“Where he was placed on a floor with members of the public who were suspected of having COVID-19,” said Chris Gautz, Public Information Officer with the Department of Corrections.

It's not clear at this time at which hospitals the inmate was treated.

At the second hospital the inmate was sampled for coronavirus on March 17th.

“The hospital sent the prisoner sample to be tested three days later. We don’t know why there was a delay in sending out the sample,” Gautz said.

The Department learned the prisoner had COVID-19 Sunday, March 22nd.

The Corrections Department cannot definitely say whether the prisoner was symptomatic while still at the Kinross Correctional Facility, but it is believed that he was not.

Corrections officers guarded the prisoner at the hospitals around the clock in shifts for 12 days. They were wearing personal protective gear, but Gautz said they’ve been instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Meanwhile, a third Department of Corrections employee has tested positive for novel coronavirus. Gautz said that employee at the Thumb Correctional Facility likely did not have close personal contact with inmates. That is being verified by Corrections. The employee did have contact with other staff at the prison and those employees have been instructed to self-quarantine.

The two previous employees who’ve tested positive did not have contact with inmates in a correctional facility. One did have contact with people arrested and held by the Detroit Police Department’s Detention Center.

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Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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