27 inmates, 4 staff members at Milwaukee Co. House of Correction test positive for COVID-19

FRANKLIN -- 27 inmates and four staff members at the Milwaukee County House of Correction (HOC) have tested positive for the coronavirus. Many more are believed to have it.

There are 623 inmates at the HOC; every one of them is issued a mask.

Chris Abele

"There's an analogy to be made between House of Correction and a cruise ship. They're both very confined spaces," Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele said.

23 correctional staff members at the HOC are currently quarantined and nine other staff members are showing symptoms, according to HOC Superintendent Michael Hafemann. He says the facility is doing everything it can to stop the spread.

Milwaukee County House of Correction

"We began testing as soon as we had symptomatic inmates, and we began sending officers home and making sure they were well to work and doing self-quarantine," Hafemann said. "There was no delay in doing this. It was done immediately, as soon as we were put to alert that this was something we had to deal with. And that goes back to about mid-March."

Milwaukee County leaders say more inmates are showing symptoms.

Courtney Day

"Even before we knew there were cases there, individuals from the House of Correction reached out to us to start putting a plan in place of what would happen if they did, in fact, have any positive cases," Courtney Day, director of health and human services for the Franklin Health Department.

State officials said, starting Saturday, all inmates and staff will be tested for the virus. Inmates who are symptomatic will be tested housed accordingly based on determinations by a medical team.

Sanitization is also being done three times as often as usual, according to Hafemann.

Michael Hafemann

"We've now contracted an outside vendor to come here and sanitize the facility each day for the next 29 days," said Hafemann.

Staff members at the HOC are also being provided with personal protective equipment. Milwaukee County also announced Friday a new online dashboard to see the latest case numbers at correctional facilities.