Staff and inmates at the South Central Correctional Center at Licking will be tested this week for COVID-19, the Texas County Health Department said Friday.
The first round starts today (Tuesday, May 26). The Missouri National Guard will be on site with medical team members to assist with testing. Plans are for the mobile test site to be in place over a period of four days to accommodate the large number of persons being testing. The maximum security institution holds about 1,600 men.
There are no known cases at the prison. Staff are screened daily, with temperature checks, before entering. Offenders with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 are isolated. At this point, all SCCC offenders who have been tested for COVID-19 have had negative test results. An aggressive viral containment plan has been in place since the COVID-19 public health crisis began.
The type of testing being conducted at state prisons, known as sentinel testing, is happening throughout the state in nursing homes, veteran homes, mental health centers and other facilities where Missourians live or work together in close quarters. The data collected will help to identify asymptomatic carriers of the virus and will inform public health decisions, officials said.
Texas County Health Department’s efforts to help coordinate a community based “prevalence testing” event with Missouri Department of Health and local providers will continue. Officials said community sampling gives the state a better sense of COVID-19 prevalence in a given area, which will help guide its response and ease uncertainty for Missourians. If prevalence is low, this will help reassure citizens that it is safe to begin re-engaging in the community and returning to somewhat normal operations. If prevalence is higher, quick and proactive steps will be taken to keep the virus from spreading further in the community.