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The Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) has completed its goal of testing every prisoner in its system.

The completion comes after today’s testing of prisoners at Michigan Reformatory in Ionia.

MDOC said testing of symptomatic prisoners has been happening 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,” said MDOC Director Heidi Washington. "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 said it 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 said it was able to test every prisoner in the state.

“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.”  

Officials said results will likely not be known until next week as the labs’ process all the results.

So far, out of 38,130 prisoners who were tested at its 29 prisons, MDOC said there are 3,263 prisoners who have tested positive, 18,316 who have tested negative, with 16,551 pending test results.

Officials said many prisoners have been tested multiple times in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines in order to be returned to their prison’s general population.

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

Copyright 2020 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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