Iowa Prisons Planning to Resume Visitation For Vaccinated Inmates

The Associated Press

The Iowa Department of Corrections has announced it will resume in-person visitation in early July for those prisoners who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The department announced the decision last Friday, The Gazette reported, as more than 58 percent of those incarcerated in Iowa’s prisons were reported fully vaccinated and 62 percent reported as having had at least one shot.

Iowa’s prisons and jails banned visitors in early March 2020 as the outbreak of the coronavirus hit the US. Inmates were instead allowed free video visits — an option that will continue after the visitor ban is lifted.

The decision in Iowa was made after prisons officials spoke to state health officials and looked at what other state prison systems were doing as more people become vaccinated, department spokesman Cord Overton said.

“Once the word is spread around about the visitation restriction, I would expect to see more inmates get vaccinated,” Overton said.

Visitors do not have to be vaccinated, Overton said. Prison officials based that on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance for visitation at long-term care facilities that say patients should be fully vaccinated, but does say visitors must be vaccinated.

Since the pandemic began, more than 4,800 Iowa prisoners have been infected and 19 have died from COVID-19.

More than 700 Iowa prison staff also contracted the virus, and two staffers died.

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