by Scott McClallen
The Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) announced Friday that it will cut off in-person prison visits, effective immediately, to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The measure comes one day after the state identified 12 presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in seven counties.
There’s no known link between those cases and the MDOC, a news release said.
“This was not a decision we arrived at lightly, as we understand and recognize the importance of family contact with the prison population,” MDOC Director Heidi Washington said in the release. “Our primary concern has to be public safety and reducing the number of people who enter our facilities is a key factor in limiting the potential spread of this illness into our prisoner population.”
The department said it will later re-evaluate when to restore face-to-face visitation, and during that time, will attempt to provide video conference services.
MDOC staff workers will be screened for health symptoms before working, the release said, and will prohibit work for those with temperatures above 100.4 degrees.
COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus that has caused 41 deaths so far in the U.S. Most people infected with the virus show only mild symptoms, but some populations, including the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, are vulnerable to more severe symptoms.
The Legislature passed a bill Thursday that, if enacted, would spend $25 million to combat COVID-19.
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.