Prisons in Ohio see increase in virus deaths


By John Seewer - Associated Press



TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — The number of deaths linked to coronavirus outbreaks at state and federal prisons in Ohio increased again. Gov. Mike DeWine said he approved the early release of 105 non-violent inmates who had 90 days or less left on their sentences.

A look at coronavirus-related developments Wednesday in Ohio:

STATE PRISONS

The coronavirus has killed two more prison inmates from the Pickaway Correctional Institution, just south of Columbus, DeWine said. All three deaths within the state’s prison system have come there.

More testing and personal protection equipment are on the way for the prisons, he said.

Over the last week, the prison population has dropped by more than 300 statewide through efforts by courts to reduce the numbers and the state will continue to look at releasing non-violent offenders who are near the end of their sentences, DeWine said.

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FEDERAL PRISONS

Six inmates have now died from the coronavirus at a federal prison in eastern Ohio, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons and local health officials.

Two of the three men from the Federal Correctional Institution in Elkton who died this week had been in the hospital for more than a week, the prisons bureau said.

Both inmates and staff have tested positive for the virus at the state’s only federal prison, which houses about 2,400 low-level offenders.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio went to court this week trying to force the prisons bureau to release all inmates who are in grave danger of the virus.

Last week, members of the Ohio National Guard began arriving at the prison to assist with medical needs.

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CASES

To date, Ohio has confirmed nearly 7,800 cases and 361 deaths — an increase of 37 deaths over the previous day, according to new federal guidelines that allow cases and deaths considered “probable” COVID-19 infections without a positive test.

The pandemic has caused more than 2,200 hospitalizations in Ohio, with about 680 people needing treatment in intensive care units.

Health care workers account for 20% of the overall number of cases in the state.

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AMUSEMENT PARKS

Two popular Ohio theme parks have announced that 2020 season passes will be honored through the 2021 season, in addition to whatever time the parks would be open this year after coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

Cedar Point in Sandusky and Kings Island in Mason are both owned by Sandusky-based Cedar Fair.

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STAY HOME ORDER

A judge dropped a charge that a man who recorded a large gathering in a Cincinnati neighborhood violated Ohio’s coronavirus quarantining orders.

Hamilton County Judge Alan Triggs on Wednesday dropped the charge at the prosecutor’s request, and allowed 26-year-old Rashaan Davis’ release from jail to house arrest pending grand jury action on a felony count of inciting violence, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

He was jailed April 5. Grand jury proceedings have been suspended for safety during the pandemic.

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DONATIONS

A Kroger Co. worker used bonus money the grocery chain paid employees to reward them for their efforts to supply customers during the virus outbreak to help out first responders in his hometown near Cincinnati.

Somsanouk “Som” Vongprachanh bought 20 cases of water, some 100 rolls of toilet paper, and stacks of disinfecting wipes, and donated it all to the Norwood police and fire departments.

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By John Seewer

Associated Press