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Missouri begins testing all inmates, staff at Corrections facilities


Missouri began the process of testing all inmates and staff at adult facilities for COVID-19 Tuesday and will “soon” start testing all incoming offenders regardless if he or she is symptomatic. 

The testing began Tuesday with the approximately 3,500 staff and inmates at the Southeast Correctional Center in Charleston and the South Central Correctional Center in Licking. Testing is expected to take about four days. 

Testing at the Algoa Correctional Center in Jefferson City and the Chillicothe Correctional Center will begin on May 31 and cover nearly 3,000 people, according to the Department of Corrections (DOC). 

“Sentinel testing in Missouri is important for the road to recovery for the community, but it’s also important for the road to recovery for Corrections,” DOC Director Anne Precythe told reporters Tuesday afternoon. 

Plans for the other facilities will be announced “in the coming weeks.” The Missouri National Guard is assisting with the testing, officials said. 

“Lessons learned and data collected from these four locations will enable us to refine and adjust our processes as we continue testing other prison sites across the state,” Precythe said. 

In addition to beginning the widespread testing at facilities, the department screens offenders “on intake.” Those who have symptoms or could have been exposed to coronavirus are tested and isolated.

“We will soon begin testing all incoming offenders on intake, regardless of whether they’re symptomatic,” Karen Pojmann, communications director for the DOC, told The Missouri Times.

And with additional supplies coming, Precythe said the department is expecting to begin screening individuals one week prior to their release. 

As of May 22, 43 inmates at the Southeast Correctional Center have tested positive for COVID-19. Another individual, who had been monitored for a respiratory condition and isolated at the Western Reception, Diagnostic & Correctional Center in St. Joseph, died. 

Additionally, 20 prison staff members and seven other Corrections workers have tested positive for coronavirus: 

  • Southeast Correctional Center: 15
  • Ozark Correctional Center: 1
  • Western Missouri Correctional Center: 1
  • Women’s Eastern Reception, Diagnostic & Correctional Center: 1
  • Western Reception, Diagnostic & Correctional Center: 1

Overall, more than 12,200 Missourians have tested positive for coronavirus as of Tuesday, and more than 680 people have died. 

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