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MDHHS issues order requiring COVID-19 testing of MDOC staff

August 19, 2020
Contact: Lynn Sutfin, 517-241-2112

LANSING, MICH. Building upon recent requirements for testing of Michigan’s prisoners, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon today issued an Emergency Order requiring COVID-19 testing for Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) staff.

“COVID-19 can spread quickly in congregate living settings,” said Gordon. “Prison staff are the principal vector for COVID-19 to enter a prison facility. It is therefore imperative that they are regularly tested for COVID-19 to protect prisoners, the staff themselves, and their communities.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently issued Executive Order 2020-170 to require that prisons and jails take preventative measures to decrease the spread of COVID-19, including testing at entry, transfer and release of any prisoner.

Under the Emergency Order, prisons operated by MDOC must adopt testing protocols for anyone who works within the physical boundaries of the prison or comes into contact with prisoners while on the job:

  • Test all newly hired staff on their start date or in the 72 hours prior to start date.
  • Ensure any staff who are close contacts of someone with COVID-19 and/or who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 receive a COVID-19 test. Follow MDHHS guidance on quarantine and transmission risk reduction for staff who are close contacts of someone with COVID-19 and/or who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19.
  • In facilities with any positive case among prisoners or staff identified within the last 14 days, test on a weekly basis all staff scheduled to work that week until no positive cases among prisoners or staff have been identified within the last 14 days.
  • Exclude from work any employees who do not receive a test when required to get tested.
  • Previously confirmed COVID-19 positive cases need not be re-tested for 90 days after the initial positive test.

All prisons operated by MDOC must take the following steps effective immediately when a staff person tests positive for COVID-19 or is exposed to the virus:

  • MDOC must take all necessary precautions in accordance with relevant guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent transmission of COVID-19. These steps may include requiring any staff who are suspected of exposure to COVID-19 to obtain testing outside the facility.
  • MDOC must exclude from work staff with COVID-19 until they have met all return to work criteria established by CDC.

This order is effective immediately, except that MDOC has until Sept. 8, 2020 to begin weekly testing. Weekly testing should begin as soon as practicable and this order remains in effect until lifted.

Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at and