Message from Director Anne Precythe: Offender Tests Positive for COVID-19

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Hello Corrections Team,

In our profession — as in other law enforcement, public safety and public health jobs — we don't pick and choose when we come to work. We operate on ordinary days, and we operate in a state of crisis. This is part of what makes our profession challenging and deserving of respect. Every position inside an institution is critical to everyone's safety, and remaining fully staffed helps us to alleviate staff stress and offender unrest. I spoke with Governor Parson late last week, and we both talked about how corrections employees rise to the occasion in times like these. Thank you for continuing to do what you do.

As we adapt to COVID-19, my team and I are doing our best to keep you informed on a regular basis about our preparation and response, and we are updating information on our public website daily: I know you like to have all the information you can, and I believe you deserve transparency. I am committed to providing you with accurate information as quickly as possible. My ask of you is simple: Please be patient, please trust what you are told, and please don’t spread rumors and misinformation.

We are proud to be considered a trusted agency, staffed by respected professionals who provide services critical to our communities. The citizens of Missouri count on us in times like this and I couldn’t be more proud of this Department. Remember: Misinformation can cause unnecessary alarm at a time when we already are facing uncertainty. Reporting test results of team members or offenders is a delicate balance but we will share pertinent results with impacted locations and provide any necessary additional guidance as quickly as possible.

As referenced in Chief Operating Officer Drew Erdmann’s email today, the number of positive results is expected to continue to increase as testing expands. Remember, there are thousands of people counting on us to keep our communities safe.

Please see the communication below regarding our first COVID-19-positive offender:

The Missouri Department of Corrections (MODOC) has received notification that an offender previously housed at Western Reception, Diagnostic & Correctional Center 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.

The offender is currently being treated at a Kansas City area hospital, where he was admitted March 19. Before being hospitalized, the offender was being monitored for a suspected respiratory condition and had been isolated in a negative airflow chamber at Western Reception, Diagnostic & Correctional Center since March 4. Before March 4, the offender was housed at Western Missouri Correctional Center.

Medical and custody staff have followed all protocols to minimize exposure. Staff interacting with the offender have worn personal protective equipment in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.

All staff who have been in contact with the infected offender have been notified. If you have not received notification that you are suspected of having had contact with the infected offender, that means you are not considered to be at risk.

No other offenders have had contact with the infected offender since before March 4. We will work with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to monitor the situation.

Corrections professionals play a critical role in public safety. The department is proud of our dedicated staff who continue to make courageous and smart decisions to keep our communities healthy. Your professionalism and your commitment to following protocols helps protect not only corrections staff but also offenders in our care and citizens of our state.

Safeguarding the health, safety and security of our staff, offenders and the public remains our top priority, and the department continues to take precautions to mitigate the potential spread of the virus. Preventative measures in place 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 with signs of any 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.

We will continue to closely monitor the spread of COVID-19 and make additional operational and preventative decisions as the situation evolves. Throughout the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak, MODOC will post public updates on our website at

Thank you for all you do. Stay strong. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

Anne L. Precythe