(CBS DETROIT) – Due to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in Michigan, hospitals, schools and just about every industry is experiencing a critical staff shortage, and prisons in the state is no exception.
“As the state has had waves of COVID the prisons have simultaneously seen waves of COVID coming in so we’re on our 4th wave just as the state is on its 4th wave,” says Spokesperson for the Michigan Corrections Department Chris Gautz.
Gautz says on average 100 employees mostly at the state’s prisons are testing positive for COVID daily. He says in most facilities they are able to cover shifts.
However; they have seeked help from the Michigan National Guard at two facilities, The Macomb Correctional, and The Women’s Huron Valley facility, which are both experiencing high infection rates.
“We’ve utilized them to help with mass testing, vaccinations, boosters as well as provide healthcare functions and other administration functions,” said Gautz.
He says as of last week the department has updated their return to work COVID policy to reflect the CDC recommendation of returning after 5 days of testing positive. This means prison staff at some facilities can return to work without needing to test negative for COVID, as long as symptoms are mild.
“A lot of our staff wanna come back because they don’t wanna be a burden on the rest of their colleagues who have to pick up their shifts because they can’t,” said Gautz.
He says those employees are required to wear a KN95 masks when they return.
According to the Michigan Department of Corrections website there are currently 3,805 COVID positive inmates and to date 151 prisoners who tested positive for COVID have died.
The site lists 7,296 staff has tested positive but doesn’t mention if that’s current or overall. 11 employees have died from the virus.
Gautz says they are taking safety measures within the prisons including weekly testing, required masks for staff and inmates and isolation of positive prisoners.
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