Ohio Has Country's Largest Number Of Confirmed COVID-19 Cases Behind Bars

Apr 20, 2020

After widespread testing this weekend in Ohio’s prisons, the state says 3,312 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19. That's significantly more than any other state in the country. 

About 26% of all of Ohio’s confirmed cases are in the prison system, with the most coming from the Franklin Medical Center and the Marion and Pickaway Correctional Institutions. 

Six inmates at Pickaway and one at Franklin Medical Center have died due to COVID-19, as well as a corrections officer at Marion. One Pickaway inmate is listed as a "probable" COVID-19 death, under the CDC's expanded definition.

No other state has reported as many cases of COVID-19 behind bars as Ohio, in large part because no other states have tested as many inmates as Ohio has.

“They are pulling off mass testing of their entire population inclusive of staff which is something that no other state is doing,” says Jennifer Clayton, head of health services for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections.

Michigan reports more than 550 of 800 inmates tested came back positive for the coronavirus. Texas reports more than 350 cases in its prison system.

The Ohio Department of Correction and Rehabilitation says it is isolating inmates who test positive to slow the spread. They do not plan to re-test inmates at this time.

As of Monday, 30,000 inmates at 20 state prison faciliites have been placed under quarantine. Ohio has a total state prison population of 49,000, one of the largest in the country.

Dozens of Ohio National Guard members have deployed to the Marion and Pickaway prisons to perform "mission-critical functions."

Several inmates at the Franklin Medical Center have spoken up about unclean conditions they argue contribute to the cases there. 

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