Michigan State Prison in ‘Epidemic Status’ with 774 Coronavirus Positive Inmates
TITTABAWASSEE TWP, MI – A state prison in Saginaw County is in the midst of a COVID-19 outbreak, with more than half of inmates there testing positive.
Michigan Department of Corrections spokesperson Chris Gautz said as of Monday, Jan.11, 774 inmates at Saginaw Correctional Facility tested positive for the coronavirus. The facility has 1,387 inmates.
There are over 300 additional prisoners who are in the withdrawal phase, which means they have been medically cleared by the MDOC chief medical officer, have no symptoms and are no longer considered contagious.
In addition, 118 prison staff have tested positive for the virus.
The prison is currently considered “epidemic status,” Gautz said.
The prison located at 9625 Pierce Road in Tittabawassee Township, west of the town of Saginaw, is made up of 11 buildings and opened in 1993. COVID-19 cases only started to increase. in late fall, Gautz said.
“Saginaw was fortunate not to have many cases of COVID until November 2020,” Gautz said. “This was due to the diligence of inmates and staff in maintaining a clean and hygienic facility. Unfortunately, this virus has now made its way into Saginaw and can quickly spread to assembly places. “
Across MDOC facilities across the state, 23,233 inmates tested positive out of 40,134 tested. As of Monday, there were 6,357 active cases of inmates with coronavirus with 1,940 others in the reduction phase.
There have been 123 inmate deaths from COVID-19, three of which were prisoners at the Saginaw Correctional Facility. No staff at this prison has died from the virus, although four staff from other facilities have died.
In December, a dozen detainees at the Saginaw center refused to return to their cells for several hours after the start of an altercation between two detainees. Gautz said the disruptions had nothing to do with the outbreak.
“Saginaw staff are always working around the clock to ensure the safety of all prisoners and staff,” Gautz said. “We continue to email all staff and remind staff at pre-shift meetings of the importance of wearing the proper PPE and enforcing social distancing. Saginaw continues to urge prisoners not to gather in unnecessary small or large groups. Saginaw staff continue to provide necessary hygiene items, large quantities of cleaning products, PPE and encourage people to do their part by following all protocols. “
The first MDOC employee to receive the COVID-19 vaccine did so on December 30. According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services immunization phase plan, health workers who provide direct care are the first MDOC employee eligible to receive the vaccine. All other employees fall under Priority 1B, which includes critical infrastructure employees and those 65 years of age or older.
Phase 1C includes people at high risk of severe COVID-19 illness due to underlying medical conditions and people 65 years of age and older. While Gautz said up to 10,000 inmates come under it, the remaining inmates fall under phase 2 of the MDHHS plan, which is a mass vaccination campaign for all people 16 and older.
Statewide, Michigan has recorded 523,618 positive coronavirus cases and 13,401 deaths as of January 11.