State Prisons See Biggest Weekly Outbreak
Positive cases up 41%, by 662 cases, in one week.
The number of positive coronavirus cases among people incarcerated in state prisons jumped by 662 last week, the largest one-week increase since those cases began to surge in August.
There was a cumulative total of 2,274 coronavirus-positive tests as of Friday, a 41% increase from the 1,612 cumulative cases reported just a week earlier.
Facilities reporting increases in COVID-19 last week are shown on the table below at right. The first column shows the total number of cases reported as of Oct. 2 and the second column shows the total cases reported as of Oct. 9. The final column shows the one-week change.
The figures show there is a growing outbreak at Oshkosh Correctional Institution and another potential outbreak at Columbia Correctional Institution. Outbreaks continued at Kettle Moraine and Dodge Correctional Institutions.
Gov. Tony Evers has been conspicuously silent on the issue of coronavirus infections among incarcerated people and staff – 577 prison staff members have tested positive — and has done little to reduce prison crowding, which makes the coronavirus more likely to spread. Adult prisons are about 19% over design capacity.
In July, WISDOM, a state social justice organization, called on Evers to take specific steps to reduce crowding, including:
- Releasing people who present a low risk to society, and who have a high risk of suffering from complications of COVID-19 – the elderly, the chronically ill, and those with compromised immune systems;
- Releasing people approved for work release, as they have already been determined to be of no danger to society;
- Releasing people who have been in prison since before they turned 25, and have already served more than 15 years, and have no history of serious trouble in the prisons;
- Releasing the 5,000 people currently in prison for “crimeless revocations,” i.e. for technical violations of the rules of supervision.
Gretchen Schuldt writes a blog for Wisconsin Justice Initiative, whose mission is “To improve the quality of justice in Wisconsin by educating the public about legal issues and encouraging civic engagement in and debate about the judicial system and its operation.”