11 deaths, high infection rate in Michigan prison

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COLDWATER, Mich. – More than 50% of detainees tested in a Michigan prison have been infected with the highly contagious coronavirus and at least 11 have died, officials said.

Lakeland Prison in Branch County in southern Michigan continues to be a hot spot. It shelters a large part of the oldest prisoners of the system.

The correctional department said that 1,411 prisoners had been tested in Lakeland and 777 were positive for the virus, according to a count published online Saturday. Thirty-one staff members also had the virus.

The department said it was testing all the prisoners there regardless of the symptoms. The same strategy will be used this week at Cotton Prison in Jackson County.

“This kind of test on this scale will help us save lives because these prisoners were unknown positives, had no symptoms and were walking around prisoners who are elderly and medically fragile and who could pass them on,” said spokesperson Chris Gautz.

Across the prison system, 55 percent of detainees tested so far had the virus and 31 have died, the state said. Two staff members died.

The University of Michigan Law School’s Innocence Clinic has attempted to have 68-year-old Jeff Titus removed from Lakeland prison, while the Attorney General’s Office is investigating whether he was wrongfully convicted of two homicides in 1990 in Kalamazoo County. But US district judge Paul Borman rejected it.

“The claim that (Titus) may get sick with COVID-19 at some future time does not create an exceptional circumstance justifying bail,” Borman said last Tuesday before an outbreak of new infections in prison.

the number of confirmed cases Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Michigan rose to 37,203 on Sunday, including 3,274 deaths. State officials reported a total of 8,342 recoveries.

Meanwhile, world death toll exceeds 200,000 as some virus locks loosen.

The Governor of Michigan has extended the residence order until May 15. However, it allows certain businesses to reopen under strict guidelines.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, disseminated, rewritten or redistributed without authorization.

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