State prisons have highest single-day spike in coronavirus cases

Six Wisconsin state prisons are battling COVID-19 outbreaks -- and Wisconsin prisons just experienced the highest single-day spike in coronavirus cases since the pandemic began.

The state Department of Corrections reported 808 new COVID-19 cases among inmates Monday, bringing the number of active cases to 2,063.

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The six state prisons in question have outbreaks of more than 100 active COVID-19 cases among prisoners. They include New Lisbon Correctional Institution with 362 cases, Fox Lake Correctional Institution with 360, Oshkosh Correctional Institution with 258, Racine Correctional Institution/Sturtevant Transitional Facility with 250, Taycheedah Correctional Institution with 140 and Dodge Correctional Institution with 135.

Oshkosh Correctional Institution

Among staff, a total of 1,470 corrections employees have self-reported testing positive for the virus, with 338 of those active Monday, the State Journal reported.

Groups like Ex-incarcerated People Organizing (EXPO) are reacting to the data on these outbreaks.

"Those incarcerated need to be addressed," said Sylvester Jackson of EXPO. "We have so many different family members concerned about their loved ones."

Jackson said his organization has been advocating since March for Gov. Tony Evers to release inmates who have little time left in their sentence or are serving time for a crimeless revocation.

Sylvester Jackson

"So we look forward to the governor we elected to stand up and use his executive power to make a difference to those individuals that are in the prison system," Jackson said.

In a statement to FOX6 News, John Beard, Director of Communications for the Department of Corrections (DOC), said the following: 

"The Wisconsin DOC continues to isolate the infected and quarantine the exposed to the best of our availabilities at each institution, and our health services staff continue to treat individuals in our care experiencing symptoms. Our top priority during this pandemic has been the health of staff and persons in our care.

"In response to rising numbers of positive COVID-19 test results in our institutions and communities around the state, the DOC this month began to limit intakes from county jails.

"In addition, this week, the DOC began transitioning to a practice of testing every institution staff member once every two weeks."

DOC officials said this month they started limiting inmate intakes from county jails. This week, the DOC has begun transitioning to a practice of testing every institution staff member once every two weeks.

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The group EXPO said they are still protesting outside the governor's mansion in Madison -- until he addresses the situation inside the prisons.

FOX6 News' efforts to reach the governor on this topic were not successful.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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