COVID-19: First state prison inmate dies

The first state prisoner has died from COVID-19, according to the Missouri Department of Corrections Tuesday. The inmate’s death marked the first COVID-19 death for Buchanan County and St. Joseph.

Posted: Apr 7, 2020 11:40 AM
Updated: Apr 8, 2020 11:51 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The first state prisoner has died from COVID-19, according to the Missouri Department of Corrections Tuesday.

The inmate’s death marked the first COVID-19 death for Buchanan County and St. Joseph.

The inmate, a man in his mid-50s, died at a hospital on April 2, department spokesperson Karen Pojmann said.

The inmate tested positive at a Kansas City area hospital on March 19, and then subsequently tested negative twice, according to the director of the DOC Anne Precythe at a statewide news briefing.

After testing negative, the inmate remained in the hospital and did not return to prison before his death. Pojmann said he suffered from multiple serious medical issues.

Autopsies are not performed on people who died with COVID-19 and because of that, corrections officials cannot definitively say what caused his death.

KQTV has reached out to the Department of Health and Senior Services for clarification on why the death was listed as a COVID-19 death. We are waiting for the state’s response.

The State has not released the name of the inmate

At this time, state officials have not released the name of the inmate who died.

In earlier communications with Pojmann, she said the man was in his mid-50s from the Kansas City area. He started his prison sentence in November 2019 at Western Missouri Correctional Center in Cameron before being transferred to Western Reception, Diagnostic, and Correctional Center on March 4 for medical treatment.

As of Tuesday, officials say five MODOC staff members have tested positive for COVID-19

In total 5 DOC employees had tested positive including one employee of the Division of Probation and Parole serving the northwest Missouri area. A bulletin from Precythe to the MODOC staff said the employee had been treated at a local hospital.

Other staff cases occurred in Jefferson City, Kansas City, and St. Louis.

The fifth employee, who tested positive, worked at Algoa Correctional Center but has been on unrelated leave for 21 days, according to an April 3 MODOC bulletin. The employee had last entered ACC on March 12.

According to MODOC’s website, there are no current COVID-19 cases inside any Missouri state prisons.

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