Highly contagious COVID-19 variant infects 90 people at prison in West Michigan

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A highly contagious coronavirus mutation has broken out at a prison in West Michigan, infecting 88 inmates and two employees.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services identified the cases through daily testing at Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility in Ionia.



Of the 95 samples tested so far, 90 have come back positive for the variant, known as B.1.1.7. An additional 100 tests are pending.

Testing began last week after an employee had a confirmed case of the variant, which was originally identified in the United Kingdom.



COVID-19 has infected 705 inmates at the Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility, and one prisoner has died, since the pandemic began in March. An additional 122 staff members have tested positive.

Across the state’s 29 prison facilities, 25,000 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 and 138 have died. The virus infected an additional 3,567 prison employees, four of whom died.

In late April, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Michigan for its handling of the coronavirus in prisons. The lawsuit accuses MDOC of violating inmates’ Eighth Amendment rights, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.

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