W. MI jails, state prisons battle COVID-19

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Kent County Sheriff’s Office reached a grim milestone this week.

“This is the first death, yes,” said Kent County Undersheriff Chuck DeWitt.

Authorities said 50-year-old Carlos Davis died Tuesday at Spectrum Hospital Butterworth Hospital from a blood clot in his lungs caused by COVID-19. Officials said he showed no previous signs of illness earlier that day until he fell down a flight of stairs while walking back to his cell.

“There was no indication that he was experiencing any medical complication,” DeWitt said. “He, in fact, had just completed a video visit.”

Authorities said Davis and four other general population inmates tested positive for the coronavirus earlier in November but can’t identify the source of the outbreak.

“We won’t know. But as a result, we’ve had to adjust our protocol,” DeWitt said. “We are having our general population inmates wear masks.”

Statewide, 4,010 prisoners are battling COVID-19, according to the latest data from the Michigan Department of Corrections. MDOC said 39,520 prisoners had been tested.

“The Michigan Department of Corrections is taking a series of measures to protect its staff, the prison population and the community as positive cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have been identified in the state,” MODC said in a post to its website.

The Ionia County Sheriff’s Office is also ramping up its sanitation efforts after authorities said five inmates and six staff members tested positive for coronavirus in October. Officials said they believe the virus was brought into the jail but were relieved to find no infections Friday.

“Currently, we do not have any cases in the jail,” said Ionia County Sheriff Charlie Noll.

Noll is trying to keep it that way. Like the Kent County Sheriff’s Office, the Ionia County Sheriff’s Office is working to free low-level offenders to keep from infecting more inmates behind bars.

“We’re at like 44 inmates, I believe, as of today (Friday),” Noll said.

Both jails continue guarding against the coronavirus, as it weaves into the lives of everyday Americans.

Officials said they send their love to the families who are impacted by its deadly effects.

“Our hearts and our sympathies go out,” DeWitt said.