Audio: Missouri prison system experiences significant drop in COVID-19 cases

Coronavirus in Prisons

In early December, the Missouri Department of Corrections began installing 1,400 air purifying devices and using disinfectant sprayers within the prison system. Since then, department spokesperson Karen Pojmann tells Missourinet the number of coronavirus cases has fallen by 80%.

The agency reports 7,612 staff and inmates have been infected with the virus since last spring – 147, or 0.4%, are active cases. Pojmann says most facilities have 0-4 active cases.

 

 

“The only prisons with more than four cases are the reception and diagnostic centers, where COVID-positive offenders are being sent from county jails, a situation that, unfortunately, is out of our control,” says Pojmann.

Forty-two prisoners and six employees have died from the virus. The rest have recovered.

Missouri’s prison population consists of about 23,000 offenders within 22 institutions.

The state is using federal stimulus dollars to pay for the $1 million cost of the air purifying devices, disinfectant machines, and materials that go along with them.

Pojmann says the state has also begun vaccinating staff and all of its facilities are ready to start vaccinating offenders in Phase 1B-Tier 2 (over 65 and/or with serious medical conditions) as soon as a supply is available; more than one-third of offenders are eligible in this tier. A vaccination event is being held Monday for staff at Algoa Correctional Center, Jefferson City Correctional Center, Probation and Parole offices in Jefferson City, and maybe for some in the central office.

The state is also testing the wastewater at all prison facilities, and Pojmann says COVID-19 in wastewater has declined to undetectable levels at nearly every site.

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