The Michigan Department of Corrections announced Friday that it completed its widespread COVID-19 testing of every inmate within their system.
Prisons around the country have been hot spots for the virus to spread because people are living in close quarters. Michigan started testing symptomatic prisoners in late March, and about a month about the department of corrections started mass testing.
“When it comes to this virus, testing is critical to knowing exactly what you are dealing with and how to address it,” MDOC Director Heidi Washington said. “The vast majority of the prisoners we found who tested positive had no symptoms and were making it more challenging to control the spread of this illness."
The final results are still pending, but so far, out of 38,120 inmates who were tested at 29 state prisons, there were 3,263 positive cases, 18,316 negative cases and 16,551 still awaiting results.
Fifty-nine inmates have died from the virus.
The biggest outbreaks have been reported in the G. Robert Cotton Facility, the Gus Harrison Correctional Facility and Lakeland Correctional Facility. Every inmate has been tested at least once, but some have been tested multiple times in order to be returned to the general population.
MDOC completed the testing Friday at the Michigan Reformatory in Ionia. The Michigan National Guard assisted with the testing.
"In less than 15 days, the department was able to test every prisoner in the state. The collaboration with the Guard, in conjunction with the department’s emergency management section, frontline healthcare and facility staff enabled the detailed action plans to run flawlessly at facilities that stretched from near the Keweenaw Peninsula to near the Ohio border," said Washington.
The National Guard also helped with voluntary testing of 1,000 MDOC employees. Latest data shows that 341 MDOC employees have tested positive.
According to the Marshall Project, which is keeping track of COVID-19 cases within state prisons, Michigan reports the second highest number of infections. It's behind Ohio, but both states have set out to conduct mass testing.
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