The Wisconsin Department of Corrections plans to test all inmates and staff at two Milwaukee correctional centers for COVID-19 next week.
Inmates and staff at the Felmers O. Chaney Correctional Center and the Marshall E. Sherrer Correctional Center will be tested on Tuesday. The Wisconsin National Guard will help with the testing.
By Thursday, 20 inmates at four DOC centers had tested positive for the coronavirus. Half of the cases were confirmed at the two Milwaukee centers about to undergo testing.
DOC officials said they decided to start mandatory testing at the two minimum-security prisons because of the recent surge in cases, their small populations and their dormitory-style living arrangements.
The expanding testing at the two centers is the first step in the department’s efforts to more broadly test staff and people who are incarcerated, officials said.
The DOC taken other steps to mitigate a coronavirus outbreak at its centers, including releasing inmates to help reduce the prison population.
Officials said they’ve released nearly 1,600 inmates since March, most of whom had been detained for violating probation, parole or extended supervision terms.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit in April seeking the release of additional inmates to further reduce the prison population, finding appropriate the DOC’s ongoing efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus.Follow @WLJReporter