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COVID-19 cases jump at Missouri prison in Farmington

COVID-19 cases jump at Missouri prison in Farmington

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Approach to Farmington Correctional Center

A car heads toward the Farmington Correcitonal Center in this 2010 photo.

Photo by David Carson/dcarson@post-dispatch.com. 

JEFFERSON CITY — Farmington Correctional Center has become the new COVID-19 hot spot in Missouri’s sprawling prison system.

According to the latest tally of coronavirus cases within Missouri Department of Corrections facilities, 52 inmates and four employees at the Farmington lockup have tested positive for the disease.

That tops the 47 inmates who tested positive at the Southeast Correctional Center in Charleston and the 42 at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic & Correctional Center in Bonne Terre.

Testing at the Farmington facility began June 29.

The prison in St. Joseph also is seeing a spike with 13 inmates testing positive after having just two cases two weeks ago, according to the department.

While some states and the federal government have released inmates to ward off the rapid spread of the virus within the closed environment of a prison, Gov. Mike Parson, a former county sheriff, has said he has no plans to follow suit.

State officials have boosted testing of inmates and prison workers in recent weeks. A total of 12,395 inmates have been tested.

The system has reported one inmate death thus far.

Offenders who test positive are isolated until they test negative. Staff who test positive are sent home on leave and must test negative twice before returning to work. All staff who have close contact with a positive are sent home for two weeks of quarantine.

The department has slowly begun to allow visitors again at some facilities, but has canceled scheduled visits at others when outbreaks arise.

For example, scheduled visits at Chillicothe Correctional Center were canceled through July 5 in response to reports of three confirmed cases in recent days.

Canceling visiting is necessary to protect public safety,” the department said.

Visits will continue as scheduled at Algoa Correctional Center in Jefferson City and South Central Correctional Center in Licking. Visits must be scheduled in advance.

Separately, the St. Louis Medium Security Institution, known as the workhouse, is reporting six of 92 people detained at the facility have tested positive.

The positive cases come amid an ongoing campaign by activists to close the jail at 7600 Hall Street.

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