Southeast Missouri Inmate Tests Positive for COVID-19

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                       

April 21, 2020
Contact: Karen Pojmann
Communications Director
Office: 573-522-1118
Cell: 573-690-7539

Southeast Correctional Center Inmate Tests Positive for COVID-19

Patient in isolation and housing wing in quarantine since April 15

CHARLESTON, MISSOURI – The Missouri Department of Corrections (MODOC) has received notification that an offender at Southeast Correctional Center (SECC), a men's state prison in Charleston, Missouri, has tested positive for COVID-19, commonly known as coronavirus. This notification marks the first MODOC offender to test positive for COVID-19 while inside a Missouri state prison.

The offender has been held in an isolation wing at SECC since April 15, when he began exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, and continues to be treated there. His cell mate also remains isolated, separately.

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. Any offenders exhibiting symptoms will be placed in isolation pending COVID-19 test results. 

Three SECC staff members who tested positive for the virus earlier this month, as well as all staff with whom they had close contact, are in quarantine at home.

A viral containment plan is in effect at SECC and all other state prisons. 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 MODOC facility. Each SECC 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 followed all safety protocols and has instituted 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 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