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Governor Whitmer Signs Executive Order Requiring COVID-19 Testing in Prisons and Jails to Keep Vulnerable Populations and Communities Safe


August 15, 2020 



Governor Whitmer Signs Executive Order Requiring COVID-19 Testing in Prisons and Jails to Keep Vulnerable Populations and Communities Safe 


LANSING, Mich. -- Today, Governor Whitmer signed a revised executive order on jails and prisons that requires adoption of testing protocols for Michigan Department of Corrections facilities, and requires that jails adopt comparable protocols in order to transfer prisons to state facilities. 


Testing is the at the very center of any strategy to keep prison and jail populations safe. By reducing the spread of COVID-19 in prisons and jails, we protect corrections officers and their families, incarcerated people, and the whole community,” said Governor Whitmer. “The Michigan Department of Corrections has been a leader for states across the country in COVID-19 response. We must continue that work to save lives, slow the spread of COVID-19, and ensure the protection of everyone who steps foot in prisons, jails, and juvenile detention centers. By expanding protections for Michigan’s vulnerable populations, we can slow the spread of the virus and save lives.” 


Under Executive Order 2020-170, MDOC must conduct testing at entry, transfer, and release of any prisoner, and suspends transfers from jails that do not adopt comparable protocols. Jails that have already resume transfers to MDOC under a prior version of the order have until September 8th to comply. The state will provide support for jails testing through the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. 


In addition to the new testing protocols, the order identifies risk reduction protocols for MDOC, and any jails transferring inmates into MDOC 


  • Screen all persons arriving or departing from a facility in a manner consistent with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.  
  • Isolate and test any inmate who has one or more of the principal symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, sore throat, a new uncontrolled cough that causes difficulty breathing, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, new onset of a severe headache, and new loss of taste or smell. 
  • Open windows and doors, and use fans, to increase air circulation to the extent feasible.  
  • Require inmates and staff to wear and mask and practice social distancing. 
  • Conduct routine cleaning and sanitization consistent with CDC guidelines, as well as ensure protective laundering protocols are in place.  
  • Minimize crowding or gatherings of 10 people or more .  


Under Executive Order 2020-170, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is tasked with supporting MDOC with diagnostic testing in all facilities. Any inmate who tests positive for COVID-19 must be isolated within their current facility and given the necessary medical treatment.  


Juvenile detention centers are strongly encouraged to reduce the risk that those at their facilities will be exposed to COVID-19 by implementing risk reducing protocols as well as eliminate any form of juvenile detention or residential facility placement for juveniles unless a determination is made that a juvenile is a substantial and immediate safety risk to others.  


Executive Order 2020-170 is effective until September 30, 2020. To view the order, click the link below: