The Missouri Department of Corrections (MODOC) says an inmate has tested positive for COVID-19, commonly known as coronavirus. This notification marks the first reported case of COVID-19 among MODOC offenders. There are no reported cases of COVID-19 among staff.

MODOC spokesperson Karen Pojmann tells Missourinet the offender has been sick for a long time with multiple medical conditions and the department does not know how the man contracted the disease.

Missouri prison inmate tests positive for COVID-19

The offender is currently being treated at a Kansas City area hospital, where he was admitted March 19. Before being hospitalized, he was being monitored for a suspected respiratory condition and had been isolated in a negative airflow chamber at Western Reception, Diagnostic & Correctional Center in northwest Missouri’s St. Joseph since March 4. No other prisoners have had contact with the infected person since March 4, according to the department.

The Missouri Department of Corrections says medical and custody staff have followed all safety protocols to minimize exposure. According to MODOC, staff interacting with the offender have worn personal protective equipment in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. All rooms and vehicles the offender occupied were immediately sanitized. All staff who have been in contact with the infected offender have been notified.

The prison has roughly 1,600 inmates.

The department says preventative measures in place to deal with the coronavirus include screening of all staff members and anyone else seeking entrance to MODOC facilities, offices and other properties; enforcement of strict sanitization schedules at each facility with cleaning supplies recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); the suspension of offender visits; the suspension of internal transfers; and close monitoring of all offenders and staff, with isolation procedures in place to protect offenders and staff from anyone exhibiting signs of a communicable disease. Corizon Health, which provides offender medical care at all MODOC facilities, is equipped with tests, medical supplies, personal protective equipment and a pandemic protocol.

Throughout the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak, MODOC will post public updates on its website.

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