The Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) is temporarily suspending in-person visits due to a rise in Omicron cases across the state.
DOC announced Thursday that all in-person visits across all adult institutions are suspended. Video visits will be offered only.
DOC will also temporarily switch to video visits and phone calls only for attorney/professional visits.
Volunteers, contractors, maintenance, agency staff, and any other non-DOC staff, except for emergency services and ongoing, necessary facility projects, will also be suspended from entering. Officials say this suspension does not apply to religious volunteers.
Those allowed entry under exception will be required to take a rapid COVID-19 test upon entrance beginning Tuesday, Jan. 18. They must also follow all COVID-19 precautions, including face masks and social distancing.
Off-site medical visits will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, DOC said.
Transfers between institutions may be adjusted or suspended based on the number of infections at the respective facilities.
Educational, vocational and treatment programming, including Bureau of Correctional Enterprises operations, conducted by DOC institution staff will still continue.
DOC also says that work release, project crews, community service and off-site education will continue, but DOC will increase rapid testing of those participating to two to three days per week upon return to the institution.
In early February, DOC will review and may lift suspensions.
“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.”