Ohio prisoners with COVID-19 skyrockets as state increases inmate testing
The increase in cases came after the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction said it was conducting mass testing at three facilities
By Eric Heisig
Advance Ohio Media
CLEVELAND — Ohio officials on Wednesday reported that 272 state prisoners have tested positive for the coronavirus, an increase of 122 cases in a single day.
The increase in prisoner cases came after the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction said it was conducting mass testing at three facilities where the virus has rapidly spread so officials can take additional measures to prevent more cases. A spokeswoman said Wednesday’s spike is partially a result of mass testing at the Marion Correctional Institution, the Pickaway Correctional institution in Orient and the Franklin Medical Center in Columbus.
Two of the most significant jumps in cases happened at Marion and Pickaway, making up for much of the overall increase.
Prison officials reported 92 positive cases at the Marion prison on Wednesday, up from 48 the day before. At Pickaway, where three inmates have died from the coronavirus, 132 prisoners have now tested positive for the virus, compared to 74 on Tuesday.
The number of staff members who tested positive for the virus now stands at 159, up from 143 the day before. One has died.
As of Wednesday, more than 21,000 inmates at 15 prisons are under quarantine and 331 are in isolation. Officials have tested 1,156 prisoners, and 744 cases are pending. One-hundred-forty cases came back with negative results.
Gov. Mike DeWine on Monday deployed members of the Ohio National Guard to the prison to assist with medical care.
He also said Wednesday that he had approved the early release of 105 inmates from state prisons, all of whom were convicted of non-violent crimes and were already within 90 days of completing their sentences. The group was among 141 inmates the governor’s office flagged last week for early release to reduce the prison population, but separate from another group of more than 60 inmates that either have a chronic health condition, are nearing their release or have given birth or are pregnant.
Still, advocacy groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio have said the governor’s measures are not enough and more needs done to reduce the population of an already crowded prison system.
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