'Concerning:' 3rd Wisconsin prison experiences COVID-19 outbreak

The Wisconsin Department of Corrections says there has been another coronavirus outbreak in a state prison -- and Governor Tony Evers said the number of active cases is troubling.

The Racine Correctional Institution/Sturtevant Transitional Facility had 127 active COVID-19 cases among prisoners as of Monday, according to the DOC.

Two other prisons, Kettle Moraine Correctional Institution and Oshkosh Correctional Institution, are still in the midst of two large outbreaks. As of Tuesday, Kettle Moraine had 352 active cases among inmates (down rom 400+) and Oshkosh had 347.

Racine Correctional Institution

Racine Correctional Institution

Sturtevant is a small unit of Racine Correctional and is located adjacent to the larger prison. The facilities are counted as one prison on the DOC’s data dashboard.

Among staff, 32 Racine Correctional employees have self-reported testing positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. Sturtevant was not reported as having positive cases among staff. Infected staff are directed to stay home and self-quarantine.

Racine Correctional Institution

Racine Correctional Institution

Gov. Evers commented on the situation during a news conference on Tuesday. 

"The numbers are large and it's concerning," the governor said.

The ACLU of Wisconsin is now getting involved -- saying they are filing an open records request with the Department of Corrections for information on incarcerated people who have been hospitalized or died due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

"This pandemic is community spread and the people that are in our care in these institutions -- they aren't going back out in the general population and hanging out together," Gov. Evers said.

Gov. Tony Evers

Gov. Tony Evers

The families of inmates inside the Wisconsin prison system have not stopped reaching out to FOX6 News with concerns on the situation. Gov. Evers said the potential sources for the outbreaks are being addressed.

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"We have to make sure the people that work there that are interacting with the inmate are not bringing that into the prison. So we are working on that as we speak as the numbers are very, very concerning. We have to make sure that the people that are in our care are taken care of," the governor said.

Racine Correctional Institution

Racine Correctional Institution

DOC’s policy is for infected prisoners to be isolated and medically cared for, and exposed inmates to be quarantined.

Across all adult institutions, DOC reported 1,104 active COVID-19 cases among inmates and 124 active cases among staff, as of Monday, the State Journal reported.

DOC statement on ACLU request

"The DOC does not determine cause or contributing factors of death in any instance. Local medical examiners or coroners make that determination. The DOC can confirm when a person in our care passes away, but confidentiality laws and privacy protections prevent us from sharing information related to their medical diagnoses. This is the case for COVID-19 and any other instance of death of a person in our care. However, the DOC provides an interactive dashboard so the public is always aware of which institutions have experienced COVID-19 without compromising the confidentiality and privacy of people in our care."

Chris Ott, Executive Director of the ACLU of Wisconsin

"The people of the Wisconsin are entitled to understand what additional burdens are being placed on our hospital systems as a result of the failure by Governor Evers and Secretary Carr to take serious actions to reduce the populations in Wisconsin prisons and to release the elderly and medically vulnerable who are most at risk. Since the governor’s emergency declaration in March, we have been urging the state to act, and now we are seeing the consequences of not acting."

Associated Press contributed to this report.


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