Oklahoma prisons reopen to visitors as vaccine access grows

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — State prison inmates in Oklahoma will again be allowed visitors, more than six months after visitations were suspended due to the coronavirus, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections announced Tuesday.

“Staff and inmate vaccinations offer protection to our facilities and communities and make it possible to resume visitation” starting April 1, according to a statement from DOC director Scott Crow.

Inmate visitation was suspended Sept. 30 in an effort to stem the spread of the virus.

Visits will be limited to two hours and visitors must follow requirements that include wearing a face mask supplied by the prison, completing a health screening and maintaining 6 feet of social distancing.

The department reports 7,341 inmates and 1,034 prison staff have tested positive for the virus.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reports 433,025 total virus cases statewide and 7,568 deaths due to COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, as the number of cases and deaths have declined during the past two weeks.

The seven-day rolling average of new cases fell from 719.3 per day on Feb. 28 to 518.7 on Sunday while the average of daily deaths dropped from 39.3 to 23.9 per day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.