The Missouri Department of Corrections is installing or has expanded technologies to kill the coronavirus in the air and on surfaces and monitor viral levels inside facilities.
DOC is installing needlepoint ionization generators in air handling systems at all prisons, community supervision centers, the Transition Center of St. Louis and other state-owned facilities, according to a news release from the department.
Ionization generators are air-purifying devices inside air-handling systems that destroy 99.4 percent of coronavirus within 30 minutes and also kill other viruses, bacteria, mold, allergens and pollutants. The department noted it will install 1,468 such ionization units.
DOC is also getting more electrostatic disinfectant sprayers that use vital oxide disinfectant. That system will on a regular schedule cover surfaces in corrections offices and common areas inside prisons and other facilities with a fine mist that kills the coronavirus and other pathogens on contact, "supplementing the aggressive cleaning regimen already in place."
DOC reported probation and parole districts have 20 such sprayers already and 20 more on their way to adult institutions.
A DOC spokeswoman did not immediately respond Tuesday to request for comment from the News Tribune regarding how much the ionization generators and disinfectant sprayers would cost, how they are being paid for and other details.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported the cost would be $1.2 million, to be paid for with federal stimulus money.
The department also said it has expanded its wastewater monitoring at all sites.
Since July, DOC has been monitoring coronavirus levels in sewage from facilities in a partnership with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the University of Missouri.
The monitoring can help signal where symptomatic and pre-symptomatic infections may be starting, and that can inform the use of strategies to test people. The department said it has installed composite samplers at all sites and conducts its own wastewater testing.
The results of wastewater testing at the Algoa and Jefferson City correctional centers in the fall prompted the department to test people to identify outbreaks at those facilities.
As of Tuesday, outbreaks at Algoa, JCCC and most other prisons in the state had subsided, according to DOC's online COVID-19 data, available at doc.mo.gov/media-center/newsroom/covid-19/data.
Algoa was down to one active case among offenders and another active case among staff, where 135 offenders and 53 staff had recovered.
JCCC was down to nine active cases among offenders and seven active cases among staff, where 328 offenders had recovered and 123 staff had recovered.
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A total of 36 offenders within DOC's statewide system had died since March, as of Tuesday — three more than reported earlier last week. The department does not report where deaths occurred. The death toll of four staff since March had not changed.
Fulton Reception and Diagnostic Center continued to have a large outbreak underway — by far the largest active outbreak in the DOC system — with 209 active cases among offenders and 11 active cases among staff.
Also at FRDC, 324 offenders had recovered, as had 69 staff.
"While the number of active COVID-19 cases in Missouri state prisons is rapidly declining, the virus continues to pose a risk to Missourians living and working in correctional facilities, as well as in the community," according to DOC's news release.
More information from DOC about its coronavirus response and the status of visiting at prisons is available at doc.mo.gov/media-center/newsroom/covid-19.