Missouri Department of Corrections says first offender to test positive for the virus while inside a Missouri state prison.

The Missouri Department of Corrections received notification that an offender at the Southeast Correctional Center in Charleston tested positive for COVID-19.

The department of corrections in a release today said this is the first Missouri Department of Corrections offender to test positive for the virus while inside a Missouri state prison. 

The offender has been held in an isolation wing at the Southeast Correctional Center since April 15 when he began exhibiting coronavirus symptoms. He has continued to be treated there and his cell mate also remains isolated separately, the department said. 

The housing wing in which the offender previously was held has been in quarantine since April 15. Every resident of that wing, as well as the rest of the housing unit, is being individually screened for fever and other COVID-19 symptoms, according to the state department of corrections. 

The department said any offenders exhibiting symptoms will be placed in isolation pending COVID-19 test results.

Earlier this month, three Southeast Correctional Center staff members tested positive for the virus. The department said they are in quarantine at home as well as all staff with whom they had close contact.

A viral containment plan is in effect at Southeast Central Correctional Center and all other state prisons. The department said each offender interacts only with residents of his own housing unit at all times, including meals and recreation, avoiding contact with other offenders and staff. Large-group activities have been suspended. 

Protective face covers manufactured by Missouri Vocational Enterprises have been distributed to all staff and offenders at every Missouri Department of Correction facility. 

Each Southeast Correctional Center staff member and offender has been issued one or more of these face covers, which can be cleaned in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

To minimize exposure, the Missouri Department of Corrections has instituted the following operational changes:

•The department has implemented strict sanitation schedules at every facility, with ample access to cleaning supplies, and has designated a point person at each facility to enforce sanitizing guidelines and to ensure the availability of soap and sanitizer.

•The department has suspended visiting, volunteer and reentry partner programs, and regular offender transfers among facilities, except in extenuating circumstances.

•All staff are screened, with temperature checks, before entering a facility.

•Corizon Health provides around-the-clock on-site medical care at every prison, and medical staff have been trained in COVID-19 preparation and response.

•Isolation cells, wings and units have been designated inside prisons. Offenders with symptoms of COVID-19, the flu or other communicable diseases are isolated from other offenders.

•COVID-19 testing is available at every prison. Offenders with COVID-19 symptoms are tested in accordance with Centers for Disease Control & Prevention guidelines.

•COVID-19-enhanced pandemic protocols have been implemented at every prison.

The department said it will continue to closely monitor the spread of COVID-19 and make additional operational and preventative decisions as the situation evolves.