State: Inmate who was at Kinross tests positive for virus

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

The Michigan Department of Corrections says an inmate has tested positive for COVID-19.

It is unclear if the inmate at Kinross Correctional Facility in Kincheloe contracted the virus while in prison or while being treated at a hospital earlier this month.

"He hasn't been at our prison for almost two weeks and he was around other people in the community that had it while he was in the community hospital," said Chris Gautz, spokesman for MDOC. "We've been making sure that our staff and prisoners know that this has happened, but we can't say for certain whether or not he had symptoms while he was in the facility or if he contracted it while he was at the hospital."

MDOC staff that came in contact with the inmate have been placed on a 14-day quarantine as of Sunday, Gautz said. 

Gautz said the inmate has not been in an MDOC facility since he was sent to a hospital March 11 for a medical condition. He was not sent to the hospital for suspected COVID-19, he said.  

A week later the inmate was transferred to a different hospital where he was placed on a floor with patients being tested for COVID-19, Gautz said. That hospital tested the inmate on March 17 and submitted the test three days later. On Sunday night, Gautz said the MDOC learned of the positive test.

"Once the prisoner is released by the hospital, the department has made arrangements to have the prisoner transported to the Duane Water Health Center inside of the Charles Egeler Reception and Guidance Center, where he will be placed in a special isolation room to continue his treatment and recovery," Gautz said. 

This latest case comes as inmates, prison staff and law enforcement officers and other first responders confront the spread of coronavirus.

On Sunday night, the Lapeer County Health Department announced that an employee at the Thumb Correctional Facility in Lapeer has tested positive for COVID-19. The health department provided no other information about the case. 

The Michigan Department of Corrections has roughly 38,000 inmates and more than 12,000 employees, including about 6,000 corrections officers. One in four state employees works for the Corrections Department.

State and federal prisons halted in-person visits, including for volunteers, March 13. 

On March 17, the state Corrections Department reported two employees in offices in different parts of the state had tested positive for the virus. One is a worker in the Jackson County Probation Office with a history of international travel; another is an employee at the Detroit Detention Center with no history of travel.

Twitter: @CWilliams_DN