ORIENT — Throughout Ohio, communities small and large are preparing to reopen their local economies, however, the persistence of coronavirus (COVID-19) can still be felt in Pickaway County, primarily at Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (ODRC) facilities.
According to the state, based on limited testing, 1,845 cases have been confirmed in Pickaway County. From the confirmed cases, 51 individuals needed hospitalizations along with 23 reported deaths.
From looking at the data, the largest spike of cases were confirmed toward the end of April leading into the new month.
In the surrounding counties, 177 cases have been confirmed in Fairfield County, 20 cases have been confirmed in Hocking County, 51 cases have been confirmed in Ross County, 26 cases have been confirmed in Fayette County, 83 cases have been confirmed in Madison County and a total of 3,777 cases have been confirmed in Franklin County.
A large portion of confirmed cases in Pickaway County come from ODRC facilities, two being located near the Village of Orient. The Correctional Reception Center and the Pickaway Correctional Institution both have reported several cases of COVID-19 along with the passing of a facility nurse.
For all prison facilities in the state, a total of 7,405 inmates have been tested for COVID-19 with another 161 tests still being processed. From the tests, 4,397 of inmates tested positive and 2,847 inmates tested negative.
A total of 39,113 inmates have been placed in quarantine with another 1,252 inmates being placed in isolation, separating the contagious inmates from the rest of the non-symptomatic population. Currently, positive inmates total up to 1,244 and 3,036 have recovered from the illness so far.
In deaths, two inmates from the Pickaway Correctional Institution have been identified as probable COVID-19 deaths. At the same facility, 27 inmates have been confirmed to have died due to COVID-19. Another inmate was confirmed to have died due to COVID-19 at the Correctional Reception Center.
Reported data from ODRC shows that a total of 518 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 and 282 individuals have recovered from the illness. A corrections officer working at the Marion Correctional Institution and a nurse working in the Pickaway Correctional Institution have died due to COVID-19, according to ODRC.
According to the Ohio Department of Youth Services, three youths have been placed in quarantine at the Circleville Juvenile Correctional Facility. The most confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported by the youth services department show that most current positive tests come from the Cuyahoga Hills Juvenile Correctional Facility with 18 youths. One more was confirmed at the Center for Adolescent Services.
A total of two youths have recovered from COVID-19, according to the department of youth services. More than 90 youths have been placed in quarantine.
For several weeks, the topic of prison facilities comes up frequently as more cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) have been confirmed in adult and youth correction centers across the state. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine also announced more Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will be sent to facilities that are in need of assistance.
On April 28, Gov. DeWine was accompanied by Ohio Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted and Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton for a regularly-scheduled press conference.
While giving updates to the current COVID-19 spread in Ohio, DeWine also paid attention to Ohio’s prison and correctional facilities, some of which had staff members passed away due to the illness.
On April 30, Gov. DeWine announced that the state has provided more than 1.1 million items of PPE to Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (ODRC) facilities across the state. ODRC Director Annette Chamber Smith was also present during the conference.
Director Smith gave an overview of the situation of Ohio’s prisons as it stands today. More strategies have since been implemented in order for facilities to limit staff and inmate contractions. Safeguards for inmates include increasing hygiene products and sanitation materials, offering cloth face coverings and preventing social gatherings between inmates.
ODRC, currently, is seeing the lowest inmate population since 2006, however, social distancing is still a main focus. Social distancing measures include expanding housing units into prison chapels and gyms.
The Ohio National Guard constructed tents located at two facilities to further separate inmates per state standards. Members of the Ohio National Guard are also providing assistance with staffing and healthcare measures.
Mass testing is taking place at the Marion Correctional Institution, which has revealed around 96 percent of inmates who tested positive for COVID-19 were asymptomatic. This reinforces the fact that individuals can spread the virus without knowing themselves as being infected.
More mass testing is also being done at the Pickaway Correctional Institution and the prison medical center in the City of Columbus. The ODRC is intending on testing inmates in all state prisons who are symptomatic, along with those who are being released early or at the conclusion of their full sentence.
A statehouse press release said any inmate who had been granted early release and test positive for COVID-19 will not be released until they are medically cleared.
The department stated that a surge of quality PPE has been sent to facility staff and staff members who are located at high-risk facilities. Those in high risk areas have also been offered use of hotel rooms instead of traveling back home or showering before returning to their family.