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From prisons to nursing homes, here are new visitation guidelines as Missouri reopens

As Missouri is set to “fully reopen” Tuesday, the state’s corrections and health departments issued guidance regarding visitation policies at its facilities. 

Gov. Mike Parson, in announcing the next phase of reopening, stressed the COVID-19 crisis isn’t over. However, he said last week he’s “confident” the state is “much better prepared to deal with” the pandemic and could move forward. 

The suspension on visitations will continue at least through Father’s Day weekend (June 21) at state prisons, the Department of Corrections (DOC) said in a letter Monday. And once visiting resumes, “start dates will vary from prison to prison,” it said. 

Like DOC, the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) — following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — limited and restricted nursing and assisted living facilities from visitors in early March. 

And as the state reopens, facilities will be allowed to conduct outdoor visitations or visits through an open window. The department instructs facilities to consider completing screenings of visitors, limiting visitors to those who test negative or have had coronavirus already, and restricting the number of visitors to up to two with social distancing requirements in place, among other things.

“We’re incredibly appreciative of all Missouri’s citizens and our providers whose efforts have allowed us to transition to this next phase,” Dr. Randall Williams, the DHSS director, said. “We recognize everyone’s patience and are thankful to share this welcome news so that our loved ones can visit together again while continuing to follow measures intended to protect their health.” 

Since mid-May, the department has required congregate living facilities to report positive cases within 24 hours. In all, 222 long-term care facilities reported at least one positive case among staff or residents, DHSS said. 

As for DOC, 51 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 along with 41 staff members; one inmate has died. 

Overall, more than 16,000 Missourians have contracted coronavirus, and nearly 900 people have died. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: For up-to-date information on coronavirus, check with the CDC and DHSS.