Michigan’s prison factories are re-tooling to produce personal protective equipment for prisoners and staff. According to MDOC, this is to slow the spread of COVID-19 across Michigan’s twenty-nine prisons.
There are three prison factories in Michigan: a Michigan State Industries factory at Ionia Correctional Facility in Ionia, Michigan State Industries Print Shop and Mattress Factory at the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility in Jackson, and Michigan State Industries garment factory at the Boyer Road Correctional Facility in Carson City. Those factories are now producing cloth surgical masks, gloves, and gowns.
MDOC spokesman Chris Gautz says that between these three facilities, nine to ten thousand masks are being produced a day. He says in a couple weeks, there will be enough for each staff member and prisoner to have three each.
“We want to be proactive, that's why we're going to be requiring that all prisoners and all staff around the state wear masks once we are able to produce those, and have those available at each facility for every staff and every prisoner to have three each.”
Gautz says this production on these many, many masks has been going on for about a week now.
“We initially sent all the masks that we have to the facilities that have had positive cases so that those staff have those available, and then we told the other facilities, ‘if you would feel more comfortable wearing one right now, and we haven't been able to get to you to supply those to you, then you can bring your own mask or gloves or gowns in.’”
In addition, these facilities are also producing gloves and masks, with distribution prioritizing the facilities in which there have been positive cases of COVID-19 among prisoners. As of Wednesday morning, there were 141 cases of COVID-19 spread across nine of Michigan’s twenty-nine prisons.