Michigan jails and prisons will now have to adopt testing protocols for inmates, according to an executive order signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Saturday.
The order says that Michigan Department of Corrections must conduct testing at entry, transfer and release of any prisoner, as well as suspend transfers from jails that do not have similar protocols.
Whitmer’s previous order about Michigan’s prison system simply suspended transfers.
“Testing is the at the very center of any strategy to keep prison and jail populations safe. By reducing the spread of COVID-19 in prisons and jails, we protect corrections officers and their families, incarcerated people and the whole community,” Whitmer said in a statement.
The announcement of the order comes as MDOC sees 435 active cases of COVID-19, the largest spike in cases in the prison system since the spring, MLive reported.
The latest order also requires screening of anyone entering or departing a facility, isolating and testing any inmate with symptoms and increasing air circulation by opening windows and doors, among other measures.
The order will be in place until September 30. It also encourages the elimination of juvenile detention or “residential facility placement” unless the juvenile is deemed to be safety risk to others.
“The Michigan Department of Corrections has been a leader for states across the country in COVID-19 response,” Whitmer said. “We must continue that work to save lives, slow the spread of COVID-19, and ensure the protection of everyone who steps foot in prisons, jails, and juvenile detention centers. By expanding protections for Michigan’s vulnerable populations, we can slow the spread of the virus and save lives.”
Michigan currently has more than 93,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. There are more than 6,000 deaths from the virus in the state, and more than 67,000 considered recovered.
Read the full executive order here.
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Jordyn Pair is a reporter with The Michigan Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair.