New outbreaks push inmate coronavirus cases past 50,000

In Ohio, cases have now been reported in nearly all prisons, but two account for the majority of cases: Pickaway Correctional Institution in central Ohio, which includes a medical wing, and Marion Correctional Institution in north-central Ohio, where virtually all inmates tested positive.

Posted: Jul 4, 2020 1:25 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The number of prison inmates testing positive for the coronavirus soared well past the 50,000 mark last month, as recent outbreaks threatened to undo control measures put in place earlier in the pandemic.

At the end of June, the total number of coronavirus cases among prisoners had reached at least 52,649, an increase of 8% from the week before, according to data compiled by the Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization focusing on criminal justice, and The Associated Press.

Of those, at least 35,796 have recovered, and at least 616 inmates have died, the data showed.

Among staff, more than 11,180 cases of coronavirus have been reported, including 43 deaths.

As of June 30, only Wyoming and Hawaii still had not identified any confirmed cases of coronavirus among prisoners.

New cases in prisons began to drop last month, with less of the rapid growth seen in the spring when Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and other states began mass testing of prisoners, the data shows.

But by the end of June, new outbreaks in Arkansas, California and Texas began to push the numbers up again.

The rising cases in prisons is mirroring a large increase in cases across the U.S., where there have been some 50,000 total per day over the past few days and hot spots are exploding in multiple states, including Arizona, Florida and Texas.

Prisons have been of specific concern because of social distancing worries, and the fear that outbreaks inside crowded facilities can affect surrounding communities as employees and vendors come and go.

The federal Bureau of Prisons recorded the most inmate deaths at 94.

Ohio led states with the most deaths, with 86 reported through the end of June.

More than 5,000 federal inmates have tested positive.

Coronavirus outbreaks in prison are an indictment of mass incarceration in the U.S., with many systems warehousing people in situations that make social distancing impossible, said Nicole Porter, director of advocacy for The Sentencing Project.

Porter said the response by governors has been inadequate, with only minimal releases of inmates in most states in an effort to free up space. At the very least, authorities should be moving to release all inmates scheduled to get out this year, she said.

In Louisiana, for example, a state panel tasked with examining up to 1,100 inmates for release ultimately approved just 100, of which 63 will be released, The Advocate reported.

“A global pandemic creates a level of urgency that people should not be kept in prison one day longer than necessary,” Porter said. “Many of those people pose absolutely no threat to public safety and their liberty would have been restored anyway this year.”

California saw a setback this week in its efforts to control the virus, when a third of the 3,500 inmates at San Quentin State Prison near San Francisco tested positive after officials transferred 121 inmates from the heavily affected California Institution for Men in Chino on May 30 without properly testing them for infections.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has defended his administration’s handling of the pandemic in prisons, noting that he has ordered about 3,500 early releases, plans about 3,500 more, and halted transfers from local jails to create more space in prisons for social isolation.

Six states — Arkansas, Connecticut, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio and Tennessee — now have infection rates higher than one of every 10 inmates, according to the Marshall Project data.

In Ohio, cases have now been reported in nearly all prisons, but two account for the majority of cases: Pickaway Correctional Institution in central Ohio, which includes a medical wing, and Marion Correctional Institution in north-central Ohio, where virtually all inmates tested positive.

Thirty-six inmates died at Pickaway and 13 at Marion, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Prison advocates in Ohio are using the pandemic to promote legislation working its way through the Statehouse that would reduce the number of people sent to prison for drug crimes.

“They could save lives by reducing the prison population as the COVID-19 death toll continues to rise behind bars,” said Piet van Lier, a researcher for Policy Matters Ohio.

The state says it reduced Ohio’s prison population by 3,170 inmates — a 6.5% drop — since March through several measures, including releasing inmates early, the normal expiration of sentences, and temporarily suspending intakes of male prisoners from county jails, though that policy has since ended.

The population of around 47,000 is now the lowest since 2006.

The Ohio prison system’s goal in responding to the pandemic “was to reduce the prison population in a manner which maintained public safety,” spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said Friday.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 75862

Reported Deaths: 3069
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion16088730
Lake7688278
Elkhart492685
Allen4002163
St. Joseph357883
Hamilton2829104
Vanderburgh202213
Hendricks1927108
Cass18029
Johnson1789119
Porter135539
Clark128749
Tippecanoe123811
Madison100665
LaPorte93130
Howard91365
Kosciusko86812
Bartholomew81747
Floyd80948
Marshall79323
Monroe76631
Delaware74552
Dubois70812
Vigo69911
Noble68829
Boone68746
Hancock68339
Jackson5965
Warrick58830
Shelby56527
LaGrange56310
Grant52930
Dearborn51228
Morgan49334
Clinton4444
Henry40620
Wayne38510
White37611
Montgomery35921
Lawrence35227
Harrison34823
Decatur34132
Putnam3128
Daviess27720
Miami2772
Scott27210
Jasper2552
Greene25434
Franklin24615
DeKalb2384
Gibson2314
Jennings22712
Steuben2133
Ripley2138
Carroll1962
Fayette1947
Perry18713
Posey1790
Starke1787
Wells1742
Orange17424
Fulton1722
Wabash1703
Jefferson1672
Knox1610
Whitley1556
Tipton14312
Washington1421
Sullivan1381
Spencer1373
Clay1245
Huntington1243
Randolph1244
Newton12010
Adams1092
Owen991
Jay920
Rush854
Pulaski811
Fountain742
Brown741
Blackford652
Ohio656
Benton640
Pike590
Vermillion580
Switzerland530
Parke511
Martin480
Crawford450
Union410
Warren241
Unassigned0206

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 102826

Reported Deaths: 3708
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin18697529
Cuyahoga13734505
Hamilton9766257
Lucas5448326
Montgomery443896
Summit3614223
Butler297663
Marion293545
Mahoning2595255
Pickaway239142
Stark1884140
Warren182139
Lorain181377
Columbiana167160
Trumbull1549108
Fairfield141632
Delaware134419
Licking131951
Clark117815
Lake113141
Wood106858
Clermont95311
Medina94535
Miami85839
Tuscarawas79314
Portage77163
Allen76946
Greene71812
Mercer63113
Belmont62326
Richland61412
Erie59728
Ashtabula57646
Geauga55944
Wayne54558
Ross4944
Darke40629
Huron4045
Madison40110
Ottawa39626
Sandusky39017
Hancock3893
Athens3602
Holmes3286
Lawrence3000
Auglaize2636
Union2601
Muskingum2431
Scioto2421
Jefferson2373
Seneca2283
Knox2127
Putnam21117
Shelby2104
Washington20922
Preble2072
Coshocton1967
Champaign1812
Morrow1762
Crawford1755
Hardin17012
Clinton1696
Highland1661
Logan1602
Ashland1543
Fulton1531
Wyandot1509
Defiance1504
Brown1462
Perry1403
Williams1363
Henry1222
Fayette1210
Guernsey1197
Hocking1189
Carroll1135
Monroe9418
Pike790
Jackson760
Van Wert732
Paulding700
Gallia701
Adams612
Meigs540
Vinton322
Morgan300
Harrison261
Noble160
Unassigned00
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