Mass Prison Testing Drives Up COVID-19 Numbers

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There were nearly 11,300 cases of COVID-19 cases in Ohio as of Sunday – and nearly a quarter of those are either inmates or staff at Ohio prisons. This comes as the state has instituted mass testing at three facilities.

2,400 inmates and 244 prison workers have tested positive for coronavirus. Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections Director Annette Chambers-Smith said the goal is to find out who’s carrying the virus – since many aren’t showing symptoms. “Pickaway Correctional Institution, Marion Correctional Institution and the Franklin Medical Center are undergoing mass testing right now of their staff and their inmates.”

Marion County now leads the state in COVID-19 cases, and 73% of the inmates at the Marion Correctional Institution have tested positive. Around a fifth of the inmates at Pickaway have tested positive. As many as five inmates at Pickaway and a corrections officer at Marion have died.

Chambers-Smith explains, “What we hope to be able to determine is here’s the percentage of people that are, they are positive for COVID but they don’t have any symptoms. And then we’d be able to separate them from the people who don’t have COVID at all. And that’s we’re the only state in the union doing that.”