Graham Kilmer

63 House of Correction Inmates Have COVID-19

And many more cases expected as test results of more than 900 inmates and staff come in.

By - Apr 20th, 2020 05:24 pm
House of Correction sign.

House of Correction sign.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases at the Milwaukee County House of Correction (HOC) more than doubled after the facility tested nearly everyone in custody over the past weekend.

On Monday, the HOC reported 63 confirmed cases of COVID-19.Three days earlier, on Friday, they were reporting 27. Of the 63 cases, 62 are men, one is a woman. And one of the cases is not staying at the facility, but living at home on facility’s electronic monitoring program.

There are 623 inmates in the facility and 150 on electronic monitoring. Over the weekend, the Wisconsin National Guard was at the facility and systematically tested all the inmates, but one, who objected on religious grounds, said Michael Hafemann, Superintendent of Milwaukee County House of Correction. 

Results from most of the tests conducted over the weekend have not come back yet, so the number testing positive will increase significantly. 

“We do anticipate we are gonna have a lot more inmates who test positive,” Hafemann said. “We only have a small portion of the test results in at this point.”

In addition, there are likely to be staff members who have contracted COVID-19. The National Guard is currently testing the more than 150 staff working at the facility. That testing, Hafemann said, should be complete by Wednesday, with the results coming Friday. 

So far, three correctional staff have tested positive for COVID-19. There are also 11 presumed positive cases among staff. These are individuals whose healthcare providers told them to assume they have COVID-19 based upon their symptoms, but were not tested.

The Army Corps of Engineers is at the HOC and planning a buildout in the facility’s Frank Lotter building, which will provide additional space for cases requiring hospitalization or a higher level of care than what is currently available at the correctional facility. Hafemann said that extra-space should be available in “a matter of weeks.”

The Milwaukee County Jail reported its first two confirmed cases Monday. One of the individuals who tested positive had already been discharged by the time the test came back.

The jail is testing everyone that was in the housing units with the two cases. So far, the jail has tested approximately 90 people held in custody.

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