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Officials announced Sunday the first death of COVID-19 in Buchanan County

Health officials announced an individual had died of COVID-19 in Buchanan County but the case came from the department of corrections.

Posted: Apr 6, 2020 6:59 PM
Updated: Apr 6, 2020 8:05 PM

(BUCHANAN COUNTY, Mo.) Health officials announced an individual had died of COVID-19 in Buchanan County but the case came from the department of corrections.

The city of St. Joseph Health Department staff announced the first death in a Facebook post Sunday. Health Dept. spokesperson Stephanie Malita said the individual’s home county is listed as Buchanan but the case was one the Department of Corrections was tracking, not the local health department.

No other information about the individual was released. 

KQTV staff has reached out to the Department of Corrections and asked whether the individual was an employee or inmate. Corrections officials have not responded.

As of Monday night, the Department of Corrections reported one inmate and five employees had tested positive for the virus statewide.

A search of official DOC communications shows no mention of an inmate or employee's death related to COVID-19.

Monday afternoon, the DOC announced it was suspending state prison visitations until May 14, an extension to a previously announced visitation restriction, in a bulletin.

The bulletin said, "Currently there are no cases of COVID-19 inside any Missouri Department of Corrections facility,” but it did not report a death.

One inmate and one DOC employee had tested positive in northwest Missouri.

The sick prisoner was transported from St. Joseph to a Kansas City area hospital on March 19. The inmate had been moved from Western Missouri Correctional Center in Cameron to Western Reception, Diagnostic, and Correctional Center in St. Joseph after falling ill.

During a March 31 briefing with Governor Parson, Missouri Department of Corrections Director Anne Precythe said the inmate had later tested negative twice for coronavirus but remain hospitalized for other medical conditions.

One staff member employed at a prison tested positive for COVID-19 21 days after going on unrelated leave from work.

“One offender, who already was hospitalized in the Kansas City area for other medical conditions, tested positive while in the hospital March 19 and has since tested negative twice -- and has not returned to a prison,” said Karen Pojmann, the Missouri Dept. of Corrections’ spokesperson, in an April 1, email.

Less than one week after the inmate tested positive for COVID-19, an employee of the Division of Probation and Parole working “in the field” in northwest Missouri also tested positive. According to a bulletin by the director of state prisons Anne Precythe, the employee was treated at a local hospital.

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Temperatures and humidity will continue to climb on Wednesday making it feel like a very humid day across northwest Missouri and northeast Kansas. Temperatures will warm into the mid to upper 80s and increasing moisture and instability. This will likely mean shower and thunderstorm chances for the remainder of Thursday and Thursday night.
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