COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The number of coronavirus infections in Ohio’s prisons topped 160 over the weekend, and 12 of 28 institutions are now under full quarantines, according to the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
A hundred staff members have tested positive, with more than half of those at Marion Correctional Institution, the prisons agency said Sunday.
One Marion prison guard died of COVID-19. Inmate infections hit 67, with the majority of those at Pickaway Correctional Institution in central Ohio.
A quarantine “separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed, or potentially exposed, to a contagious disease to see if they become sick,” the prisons agency said.
During the epidemic, the state is also limiting inmates to two meals a day, a hot brunch and an evening meal, to reduce movement in facilities and contact between individuals, The Lima News reported.
To date, Ohio has confirmed 6,518 cases and 253 deaths, according to the Department of Health.
The pandemic has caused nearly 2,000 hospitalizations in Ohio, with about 600 people needing treatment in intensive care units.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple of weeks.
Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.
In other developments:
LAWMAKERS URGE REOPENING
The state remains under a stay-at-home order until May 2, with all but essential businesses closed.
But some lawmakers are starting to pressure Republican Gov. Mike DeWine to reopen part of the economy.
State Rep. Nino Vitale, a Republican in Urbana in western Ohio, sent a letter to DeWine asking that elective surgeries be resumed so doctors and nurses can return to work, according to the Dayton Daily News.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently revised how coronavirus cases and deaths can be reported, saying positive symptoms can count toward a diagnosis even if there isn’t a positive test. GOP House Speaker Larry Householder told the Dayton Daily News he questioned whether Ohio is using that policy to escalate its numbers and justify the policy of keeping the economy closed.
DeWine has repeatedly said that the stay-at-home order is saving lives and that reopening businesses too soon could lead to an increase in cases just as the state is seeing progress.
Ohio University moved up graduation to April 18 for its Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine and College of Health Sciences and Professions, adding hundreds of new physicians and nurses to assist in battling the pandemic.