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Thursday Update: State Prison Plan Explained

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine gives an update at MetroHealth Medical Center on the state's preparedness and education efforts to limit the potential spread of a new virus which caused a disease called COVID-19, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Update on Cases

The Ohio Department of Health’s latest report shows 724 new cases and 38 new COVID-19 related deaths. Ohio now has a total of 18,027 cases and 975 fatalities.

3,533 Ohioans have been hospitalized from COVID-19; 1,035 have been admitted into the intensive care unit. More than 133,000 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Ohio. The Buckeye State has a positive test rate of around 13.5%.

PPE Going to Ohio Prisons

Yesterday, Governor DeWine reported on the 4.1 million pieces of PPE that have been sent to local EMAs across Ohio last week. Today, DeWine spoke about another place where the state is directing these needed supplies, which is the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

“Our corrections employees at state prisons are on the front line every day,” DeWine said. “We want to do what we can to help keep them safe.”

Over the last few weeks, we have delivered to the prisons more than 1.1 million pieces of PPE. This includes:

  • 108,000 N-95 masks
  • 256,000 gloves
  • 684,000 procedure masks
  • 10,000 provider gowns
  • 100,000 cloth masks for inmates

That totals 1.1 million pieces of equipment that are vital to the safety of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction staff and the offenders they guard. DeWine says the goal is to keep a 90-day supply of the most critical equipment.

“These allocations, coupled with what the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction has on hand, are helping achieve that,” said DeWine. “We’ve achieved that target with N-95 and procedure masks, as well as gloves. We’ll keep working on the rest.”

Prison Pandemic Plan

Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Director Annette Chambers Smith joined Governor DeWine during this afternoon’s press conference to provide a layout of the state’s prison pandemic plan.

“We created our pandemic plan in 2009,” said Chambers-Smith. “We have since updated and practiced our plan. We started making PPE, hand sanitizer, face shields, masks and more. We were the 2nd prison in the nation to stop accepting visitors.”

Ohio was the first state to do mass testing. Chambers-Smith says the state did this in three facilities. She says the state learned valuable information from this that is helping Ohio move its plan forward as we do testing.

Dr. Michael Para from the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center also weighed in, saying the mass testing was a critical step.

“A large number were positive, but what is amazing is how many people were positive and had no symptoms at all,” said Para. “They were feeling fine.”

Dr. Para says he believes the state’s prison system has an effective plan.

“They have offered inmates masks, they do contact tracing, there is very little else that I can suggest,” said Para. “They’ve really done a lot. They’ve been very thorough.”

The reason the state tested everyone in three facilities is that in the Marion facility has a high number of inmates who are older. Franklin is a medical facility. Pickaway has a dialysis unit and a long-term care facility. State health officials say these are populations that are very vulnerable.


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