Wisconsin DOC suspends in-person visits as omicron cases rise

WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- The Wisconsin Department of Corrections announced temporary changes Thursday, including the suspension of in-person visits, in light of increasing Covid-19 cases.

Beginning Jan. 13, the following changes will be implemented:

  • Temporarily suspend all in-person visits across all adult institutions and offer video visits only.
  • Temporarily switch to video visits and phone calls only for attorney/professional visits.
  • Temporarily suspend entry for volunteers, contractors, maintenance, agency staff and any other non-DOC staff, except for emergency services and ongoing, necessary facility projects.
    • This suspension does not apply to religious volunteers, who will be allowed continued entry to DOC facilities.
    • Those allowed entry under the exception for religious volunteers, emergency services and ongoing, necessary facility projects will be required to take a rapid COVID-19 test upon entrance beginning Tuesday, Jan.18 and must follow all institution COVID-19 precautions
  • Off-site medical visits will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
  • Transfers between institutions may be adjusted or suspended on a facility-by-facility basis based on the number of COVID-19 infections at the respective facilities.

“Like the rest of the state and nation, Wisconsin DOC has seen positive cases rise sharply in this wave of the Omicron variant of COVID-19,” said DOC Secretary Kevin Carr. “DOC has not seen any corresponding increase in serious illness among people in our care, likely due to a combination of the high vaccination rate in our facilities and evidence that this Omicron variant causes less severe disease. However, we feel making these temporary changes is the best way to protect our staff, those in our care and the communities surrounding our institutions.”

The DOC will review the situation in early February and may consider lifting these suspensions. 

DOC says educational, vocational and treatment programming, including Bureau of Correctional Enterprises operations, conducted by DOC institution staff will continue with protocols related to face coverings and physical distancing remaining in place.

Work release, project crews, community service and off-site education will continue, but DOC will increase rapid testing of those participating to 2-3 days per week upon return to the institution

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