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Published 5/22/2020
6:27pm

MDOC Completes Testing of Every Prisoner in System

Assistance from the Michigan National Guard ‘Invaluable’ 

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Following the completion Friday of testing prisoners at Michigan Reformatory in Ionia for COVID-19, the Michigan Department of Corrections has completed its goal of testing every prisoner in its system.

The department had been testing symptomatic prisoners since late March and had done well more than a thousand tests. In mid-April, the MDOC started the mass testing of several facilities on its own as a continuation of its proactive measures to slow the spread of the virus in its facilities.  

“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."

In order to accomplish this feat of testing every prisoner, the MDOC reached out to the Michigan National Guard for their assistance and they stepped up to the challenge.  

“We simply could not have achieved this goal, this quickly without the assistance of the Michigan National Guard,” Washington said. “Their professionalism, expertise and proficiency were simply invaluable.”

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.

“This was an incredible display of partnership, and we are proud to work alongside the professionals in the Michigan Department of Corrections,” said Maj. Gen. Paul Rogers, Adjutant General and Director of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. “The MDOC support to this mission was flawless, and these efforts will slow the spread of COVID-19 and safeguard Michigan communities.”    

While the final results will likely not be known until next week as the labs process all of the results, so far, out of 38,130 prisoners who were tested at its 29 prisons, there are 3,263 prisoners who have tested positive, 18,316 who have tested negative, with 16,551 pending test results.  

While every prisoner has now been tested at least once, many prisoners have been tested multiple times in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines in order to be returned to their prison’s general population.  

The assistance of the Guard has also allowed the department to offer voluntary testing of its employees across the state. So far, more than 1,000 MDOC employees have volunteered to be tested.

Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly.

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Update 5/17/2020

The State of Michigan has suspended Owosso barber, Karl Manke's license, over his defiance of the Governor's Executive Order restricting the operation of such businesses.  A Dallas Texas salon owner who was jailed for violating a similar order is reportedly traveling to Owosso to show Manke support.  Manke closed temporarily on Friday but said he planned to reopen on Monday.

A Grosse Pointe priest is a social media star after images of him blessing Easter baskets with a squirt gun filled with holy water surfaced online.  St. Ambrose Church posted the images on social media of the Reverand Tim Pelc.

Significant flooding is expected in towns along Lake Michigan as a rain and storm system hovers across much of the state beginning Sunday.  Most of the lower peninsula will receive up to two inches by Tuesday.  Some areas, however, could see as much as four.

Two children were rescued from a burning home in Detroit.  A two and four year old were in the home alone when the fire started.  Thanks to a neighbor's quick 911 call when she heard the home's smoke detectors, firefighters discovered the children upon entry.  The neighbor did not know anyone was in the home.

A rally is planned for Rosa Parks Circle on Monday.  Organizers are unhappy with Governor Whitmer's executive orders.  More than 1,000 people are expected at the event entitled "American Patriot Rally - Sheriffs Speak Out."  Organizers say the intended message is to encourage law enforcement to uphold the constitution.

Two people were rescued when a canoe capsized in the Grand River in Lansing on Saturday.  The pair were stranded on a downed tree.  Delta Township Fire, EMS and Eaton County Sheriffs Department responded.

A customer at a Flint liquor store was shot after engaging in a scuffle with a security guard.  Unhappy with limited access to the store due to COVID-19, the man reportedly struck the guard several times.  After the guard pulled out a gun, the man struck the guard again, causing the weapon to fire.  Police say they believe the bullet ricocheted off the ground before it struck the man in the ankle.

A police chase that began in Mackinac County took officers across the Mackinac Bridge.  The suspect vehicle crashed through the toll gate but continued to run from authorities before the driver lost control and rolled over.  The initial attempt to stop the vehicle was in response to a domestic violence call.  The suspect left the scene with a child.  The child suffered minor injuries in the crash.