US prisons become hotspots Covid-19, 73% of prisoners infected with the virus

Marion Correctional Institute, where 1,828 prisoners are infected with the corona virus. Photo: Marion Star.
Marion Correctional Institute, where 1,828 prisoners are infected with the corona virus. Photo: Marion Star.

A prison in Marion County, Ohio became a hot spot for Covid-19, with at least 1,828 coronary inmates infected. It is the state with the most virus-infected prisoners in the United States.

Ohio officials said the extensive testing program led to the discovery of a large number of positive cases.

The test was performed on all people at Marion Correctional Institute – the minimum security prison for men in Marion. In addition to the prisoners, 109 prison staff were also positive for Covid-19. No deaths have been recorded at this prison.

“Because we are testing all, including asymptomatic people, we receive positive results in those who have never been tested because they have no symptoms,” said the Department of Recovery and Corrections to Ohio, the prison regulator, said.

Currently, 2,400 prisoners and 244 prison staff are infected with the corona virus in Ohio. The numbers could rise this week when a Pickaway county jail began mass testing on April 19.

By April 20, Ohio had a total of 12,919 cases of corona virus, of which prisons accounted for more than 20 percent, according to National Public Radio.

Apart from Ohio, no state in the US has ever recorded so many corona virus infections in prison, mainly because none has tested as wide and mass testing as Ohio.

“They conduct extensive testing across all personnel, including employees, which no state does,” said Jennifer Clayton, head of the health department of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections.

Texas, California, Florida and Georgia all have higher numbers of prisoners than Ohio, but record significantly lower cases.

The state of New York, which has nearly 250,000 cases, accounts for about one-third of all US infections, records more than 1,000 infections in prisons, mostly employees (794). New York said it only tested prisoners showing symptoms.

Ohio’s governor, Mike DeWine, recently proposed an early release for about 300 of the state’s 49,000 prisoners, lower than the thousands of prisoners the American Civil Liberties Union recommends releasing.

Upon receiving the state’s updated list of Covid-19 on April 20, Mr. DeWine said: “We are considering releasing more prisoners,” but stressed there is no plan to release a series of prisoners.

With dozens of virus-positive staff at prisons in Marion and Pickaway, the Ohio National Guard is being deployed to increase surveillance of prisoners.