Health Editor’s Note: Prisons are hot spots for COVID-19. Clearly it takes only one person, infected with coronavirus, to set off a maelstrom of illness. While Governor DeWine of Ohio has become the poster boy for managing coronavirus spread in his state, it is hard to get around pockets of humans, in confined spaces, such as prisons and cruise ships for that matter, not being subject to the rampant viral spread once the virus is brought into an environment.
All it takes is for one visitor, although visits were stopped early on, or one worker to come into the facility and unknowingly begin the spread of viral infection. One of COVID-19’s trademarks, as we have come to know, is the ability of the virus to lurk in hosts who have no idea they are carrying the virus because they have no symptoms of being ill. We might add again, no symptoms what so ever.
The main issue in Marion prison and other prisons as well, is that workers are being brought back to work before they are cleared of spreading the virus. States have been trying to release prisoners, who are qualified and do not pose a danger to society, from the prisons to cut down on the numbers who could become infected. Early releases in themselves are like opening a can of worms, because these former inmates have to have somewhere safe to live after release and often they do not. They are likely to become infected on the outside as well as within the walls of the prisons…..Carol
Marion prison becomes nation’s leading coronavirus hotspot as advocates demand action
By Catherine Candisky, The Columbus Dispatch and Sarah Volpenhein, Marion Star
As coronavirus spreads rapidly through the Marion Correctional Institution, making the central Ohio prison apparently the nation’s top hot spot for COVID-19, advocates for both corrections officers and inmates say the state is not doing enough to protect either.
The union representing 349 guards and other employees at the Marion prison is concerned that corrections officers and others at the prison who had been sent home after testing positive for coronavirus are being forced back to work as soon as three days after being deemed symptom-free. Those same employees are often working double shifts as well, said Sally Meckling, spokeswoman for the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association.
“County health departments and state health departments are all over the map on instructions about who goes back to work and when,” Meckling said. “Some of our members are being told they can go back after three days of being symptom-free, others are saying five days and others are saying 14 days.
“The other issue we’ve got, particularly at Marion, is (employees) who are back after being tested positive are working back-to-back shifts. They are already sick, they are tired, and now they are working 16 hours a day.”