Two state prisons in Ohio are now the largest reported sources of coronavirus infections in the United States, a New York Times database revealed this week.
As of Monday, the Marion Correctional Institution had 1,950 confirmed COVID-19 cases among inmates in a prison population of 2,500. An additional 154 staff members have tested positive, bringing the total number of confirmed cases from the prison to 2,104.
That means the Marion Correctional Institution has more confirmed cases than any county in the state. Marion County has the most confirmed cases in Ohio with 2,132, only 28 of which are from outside the prison.
The prison has more cases than Cuyahoga County (1,653), Pickaway County (1,635), and Franklin County (1,557).
The Pickaway Correctional Institution accounts for a large portion of the county’s confirmed cases. According to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, the prison has 1,163 confirmed COVID-19 cases among prisoners and 67 among staff, a total of 1,230.
According to The Times, the two prisons are now the largest reported sources of coronavirus infections in the United States. They have produced more cases than the Smithfield Food processing facility in South Dakota (904), the Cook County Jail in Chicago, Illinois (768), the Cummins Unit in Grady, Arkansas (680), and the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt docked in Guam (672).
The Times notes that nearly one out of five cases in Ohio is now connected with the state’s prison system. Overall, the Ohio prison system has produced 3,312 coronavirus cases and eight deaths, six of which occurred in the Pickaway Correctional Institution.
As of Tuesday, Ohio had 13,725 cases, meaning the Marion Correctional Institution alone accounts for 15 percent of Ohio’s total caseload.
The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction attributed the spike in cases to its “aggressive and unique approach to testing, which includes mass testing of all staff and inmates at the Marion Correctional Institution, the Pickaway Correctional Institution, and the Franklin Medical Center.”
“Because we are testing everyone – including those who are not showing symptoms – we are getting positive test results on individuals who otherwise would have never been tested because they were asymptomatic,” the agency said in a statement. “Gov. DeWine spoke about this on Friday at his press conference and stressed that the data in these three locations is the result of widespread testing.”
— Ohio DRC (@DRCOhio) April 19, 2020
Several liberal organizations sent a letter to the governor in late March asking him to immediately reduce “state and local incarcerated populations.” One prisoner has even sued for his release because of the virus, The Ohio Star reported.
– – –