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Published 5/2/2020
10:15pm

Michigan National Guard to Aid Michigan Department of Corrections with COVID-19 Testing

Testing Will Begin at Baraga, Continue At Other U.P. Facilities

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Beginning Monday at the Baraga Correctional Facility, medical specialists from the Michigan National Guard will assist Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) staff in testing every prisoner at the facility. The guard members will then move east across the U.P. with the goal of testing one facility each day.

“The medical professionals of the Michigan National Guard are proud to assist with COVID-19 testing in the Upper Peninsula,” said Maj. Gen. Paul Rogers, adjutant general and director of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. “We are community members and neighbors, and we always ready to assist in the fight against COVID-19.”

After Baraga, the facilities being tested include Alger Correctional Facility, Marquette Branch Prison, Newberry Correctional Facility, Chippewa Correctional Facility and Kinross Correctional Facility. All prisoners will be tested, totaling about 7,500 prisoners.

“We are very grateful for the support from the National Guard in this effort to continue our testing of prisoners across the state,” said MDOC Director Heidi Washington. “Their assistance will allow us to accelerate our plans for testing our population, which will help us keep our staff, prisoners and the public safe.”

The majority of the soldiers working on this project are residents of the U.P. MDOC employees who are active members of the Guard at these facilities will also assist in the process.

There will be 15, three-person teams of Michigan National Guard members working with MDOC custody and non-custody staff to complete the testing. Medical specialists from the Michigan National Guard will be in each team and will handle sample collections from the prisoners.

Once samples are collected from each facility, the MDOC will transport them to a lab for testing. Results should be known in about 48 hours.

“The clinicians, staff and patients of War Memorial Hospital appreciate the effort to fully test and identify the prevalence of the COVID-19 virus at Kinross Correctional Facility and other prisons in the UP,” said David Jahn, president and CEO, War Memorial Hospital, Sault Ste Marie. “As a CEO who could be calling upon my staff to care for very sick infectious disease patients, I need to have as much information as possible to be prepared for a surge.”.

Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly.

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Update 4/26/2020

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is now a Saturday Night Live character, after a skit aired on April 25th depicting Michigan's leader delivering a satirical message to the state's residents about staying safe during the state's Coronavirus lockdown.

The body of a six-year-old was found on Friday April 24th in the Huron River.  The boy, along with his father, disappeared during a fishing trip on March 29th.

A man was rescued after his kayak capsized in West Michigan.  It happened Saturday morning, April 25th, at Fennessy Lake, in West Michigan.  The 42 year old man was treated for hypothermia.

SEIU Healthcare Michigan President Andrea Acevedo says she is concerned some nursing homes in Michigan are choosing not to report COVID-19 deaths to employees and the public putting more lives in danger.  The union represents more than 5,000 nursing home workers.

A Grand Haven church is among others in the state to offer a drive-in service as Michigan's stay-at-home order remains in place.  Trinity Reformed Church invited drivers to park in the church's lot on Sunday morning at 10am but required attendees to keep windows up and continue to social distance.

A Republican Michigan lawmaker is apologizing after wearing a face mask in session in Lansing on Friday, April 24th that resembled the Confederate flag.  State Senator Dale Zorn said the mask's design was not a Confederate flag but apologized for his choice of pattern.

Mid-Michigan TV stations will host a town hall with Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday April 30th.  The event will originate at the ABC 12 studios in Flint and will be carried on that station, along with WNEM-TV 5, NBC 25 and FOX 66, from 7 to 8pm.

A person suspected of breaking into vehicles in Gaylord over the weekend has been arrested. Authorities say there may be more victims than those currently known.