Champaign County has 6 total COVID-19 cases and one fatality from the virus, according to the Champaign Health District’s report on Monday.
The coronavirus has killed its first Ohio prison inmate, Gov. Mike DeWine said Monday as the number of infections in state prisons topped 160 over the weekend.
Twelve of 28 institutions are now under full quarantines, according to the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
The inmate at Pickaway Correctional Institution had a long-term chronic illness before dying, DeWine said. 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 the Pickaway prison. DeWine ordered members of the Ohio National Guard to assist at the Pickaway health center, with a dozen prison medical employees currently out sick with COVID-19.
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.
DeWine has announced just over 200 inmates are being considered for early release, including pregnant prisoners and women with children with them behind bars. The American Civil Liberties Union on Monday called on DeWine to release thousands of inmates to minimize the spread of the virus.
On Friday, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf authorized the early release of as many as 1,800 inmates.
Kwanza Maxwell, of Columbus, said her father, David Watkins, is living in an open dorm situation at Noble Correctional Institution in southeastern Ohio, and eating side by side with other inmates. Watkins, 57, is a diabetic dependent on insulin, she said. Records show he’s due for release in 2027 on a drug trafficking charge.
“He is not sentenced to death, therefore he does not deserve to die while serving his sentence,” Maxwell said during a news conference.
DeWine said last week the state is doing “everything that we can to try to keep them safe,” referring to both prison employees and inmates.
In other developments:
To date, Ohio has confirmed nearly 6,900 cases and 274 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.
DeWine said nursing homes, which currently account for about 5% of all cases, will now be required to notify all residents and family members of a positive test within 24 hours.
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.
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 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.
THE NEW NORMAL
DeWine limited liquor sales in Ashtabula, Belmont, Columbiana, Jefferson, Mahoning and Trumbull counties to Ohioans after complaints about sales to customers from Pennsylvania, which has closed liquor stores.
Cincinnati police have charged 10 people with violating the state stay-at-home order to date, including the April 4 arrest of a man behind a YouTube video describing a large crowd gathered in the city’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported.