FRANKFORT, Ky. — This week, people who are incarcerated in Kentucky will be allowed to have visitors for the first time since the pandemic hit. The changes in visitation rules apply only to state-run Department of Corrections and juvenile justice facilities.
Governor Andy Beshear said the visitations would open up once the vaccination rates, of both inmates and staff, hit 80%.
Critics of the process said Kentucky's prisons were put on the back burner, waiting months to get vaccine doses after nursing home residents began getting theirs - only to hit another bump when the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was put on hold.
A number of facilities saw outbreaks of the virus, leading to more than 9,000 cases among Kentucky inmates and prison staff. At least 53 people died, with the majority of deaths reported at the Kentucky State Reformatory.
On average, prisons have had more than 500 cases of COVID-19 each since the beginning of the pandemic.
Today, cases of COVID-19 in Kentucky prisons are slim to none.
As of Friday, there was one active inmate case from a county jail now at the Roederer Correctional Complex and one active staff case at Green River.
Last month, Governor Beshear issued a warning on how quickly case numbers can change.
"Remember, this is a setting where if there is a COVID outbreak, we have seen it can be devastating how quickly it can spread, so we are taking precautions while still opening up visitations."
In order to visit someone in one of these facilities, you must be vaccinated against COVID-19 and provide proof of your vaccination. Visits will be limited to two people per inmate. Masks and social distancing will be expected as well.
The state says corrections facilities will still offer virtual visits.