Governor Mike DeWine is sending Ohio National Guards members to the Elkton Federal Prison in eastern Ohio to help with the coronavirus medical crisis, following a formal request.
Three prisoners have died of COVID-19, seven have been diagnosed positive, and a dozen more have developed symptoms. DeWine says an inspection last week showed the prison has only half the necessary medical staff. And so he has sent 26 Ohio guard members there on a medical mission.
“The guard members will not be armed; they will not be providing security. They’ll be there to assist with non-COVID cases as well as those who are showing symptoms of this highly contagious, deadly disease. These soldiers, who all work in the medical field, will have N95 respirators for protection while they work to augment the current prison medical staff. They will treat those they can while triaging others will serious symptoms for hospital care.”
DeWine took pains in today's daily briefing to point out that Elkton is a federal prison, not part of the Ohio prisons system.
“But this prison is in Ohio. It is staffed primarily by Ohioans. Their families live in the area. When an inmate gets sick, these inmates are of course transferred to local hospitals, out in the community.”
DeWine spoke with the federal director of prisons Sunday night and said the feds need to stop any intake of new prisoners during the pandemic.
“When an outbreak inside the prison takes place it’s certainly not the time to introduce new inmates to that population.”
The governor says in addition to the 26 Guard members who will be assisting inside the prison, other soldiers will provide ambulances and other equipment, and be available to transport seriously ill patients to hospitals in case of a surge.