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First Michigan Department of Corrections employee dies of COVID-19

A total of 25 Michigan Department of Corrections employees have tested positive for the virus as of April 1.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Prison with a barbed wire fence.

MICHIGAN, USA — A Detroit transportation officer with the Michigan Department of Corrections died from COVID-19 on Tuesday. 

A total of 25 MDOC employees have tested positive for the virus as of Wednesday morning. The employees who have tested positive work at the following facilities: Parnall, Detroit Reentry Center, Detroit Detention Center, Cooper Street, Thumb, Woodland, Huron Valley and Saginaw. There are also probation agents in Jackson and Wayne counties that tested positive. 

In addition, 141 inmates have also tested positive for the virus as of April 1. The department is posting daily updates with a breakdown of the location of inmates who test positive. 

RELATED: How Michigan's prison system is addressing a rising COVID-19 case count

Chris Gautz, the department's public information officer, said on Monday that the department expects to see the case count increase as more people are tested.

In the absence of a directive or law change, only inmates who are already eligible for parole can be considered for release. Gautz said about 5,000 of the state's 38,000 inmates are currently eligible for parole. 

"But the majority of those cases are either sex offenders or individuals who had very assaultive crimes. And 1,200 of them are individuals who we paroled once before and they violated their parole so bad that we had to bring them back," Gautz said. "So, there is a reason why they haven't been released."

The MDOC is currently cross-referencing its list of parole eligible inmates with a list of inmates who either have a chronic care condition and/or who are over 60 years old. 

"We are taking those case by case," Gautz said. "But, we have to balance it with the need for public safety."

Over 120 inmates will be paroled this week through the normal paroling process, Gautz said. 


Patients with confirmed infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

The best prevention for viruses, such as influenza, the common cold or COVID-19 is to:

  • If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19, call your health care provider. If you do not have a health care provider, call the nearest hospital.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If not available, use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or upper sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • If you are sick, stay home, and avoid contact with others.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others when in a public setting

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