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Nurse becomes 3rd Ohio prison employee to die from COVID-19

Bernard Atta, 61, worked for the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction since 2012

By Catherine Candisky
The Columbus Dispatch

GALENA, Ohio — A nurse at the Corrections Reception Center in Orient died Sunday from complications of COVID-19 as the deadly outbreak continues to spread through Ohio prisons.

Bernard Atta, 61, of Galena who worked for the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction since 2012, was the third prison employee to die during the coronavirus pandemic, according to state officials.

Ohio prisons have been hard hit by the coronavirus as the close living quarters make it difficult to maintain social distancing as recommended to prevent the virus from spreading.

Statewide, 4,353 inmates and 947 prison staffers have tested positive for COVID-19 as of Sunday. Sixty-two inmates and three employees have died.

A nurse at Pickaway Correctional Institution, Tina Reeves, 58, of Blacklick died April 26, and a corrections officer at Marion Correctional Institution, John Dawson, 55, of Mansfield died April 8.

The Marion and Pickaway prisons last month were named national coronavirus hotspots, each with more than 80% of their inmate populations infected. The state has since stopped mass testing so it’s unclear the extent of the spread at other institutions. However, all are under facility-wide quarantine.

Department statistics for the Orient facility showed as of Sunday 153 inmates and 30 staff members infected, with one prisoner death. The prison, currently with a population of 1,459, serves as an intake center where new arrivals can spend up to six months before being transferred to a permanent facility to complete their sentence.


©2020 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)