Staff members at two local correctional facilities have tested positive for COVID-19, leaving one under complete quarantine, officials said.
One staff member works at Dayton Correctional Institution and another is employed at the nearby MonDay Community Correctional Institution.
“I think we all knew it was just a matter of time before we had our first staff member test positive,” Michael Flannery, director of MonDay, wrote on the facility’s website Thursday.
An Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction COVID-19 report Thursday shows a full institution quarantine of 836 inmates at Dayton Correctional Institution. No inmates at the facility at 4104 Germantown St. in Dayton had tested positive through the reporting period, according to the department.
The staff member at the Montgomery County-operated MonDay Community Correctional Institution started having symptoms nearly a month ago, according to Flannery.
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The MonDay staff member started feeling sick 26 days ago, was tested and has not returned to work since, read Flannery’s note.
Flannery called it a “unique situation.” The staff member first received negative test result but a retested sample proved positive, he wrote.
“The good news is that the staff person is recovering and doing well,” Flannery wrote.
No other staff members or offenders at MonDay have tested positive in the meantime, according to the director’s letter.
“We are doing our best to keep everyone safe during this unprecedented event,” Flannery wrote.
MonDay is a residential treatment facility that helps divert lower-level felony offenders from state prisons. At 1951 S. Gettysburg Ave. in Dayton, the facility’s average daily population was 247 during 2019, according to program data.
Across the Ohio-run prison system, 58 staff members and 36 inmates have tested positive for coronavirus, according to the state’s Thursday report.
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Specifics regarding staff or incarcerated individuals who test positive are not being released by the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, according to a department spokeswoman.
One corrections officer at Marion Correctional Institution has died from COVID-19. At least 34 staff members and 11 inmates at Marion Correctional had tested positive as of Thursday. At Pickaway Correctional Institution, 23 inmates and 10 staff members have tested positive, according to the department’s report.
Three prisoners at the Federal Correction Institution in Elkton have died, prompting Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine to authorize the Ohio National Guard to provide medical help there.
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Dayton Correctional Institution also experienced a water outage on Monday, which prompted family members of some inmates to contact the Dayton Daily News.
Inmates were notified of the water line break and drinking water was delivered to housing units, according to the state’s spokeswoman and internal prison communications obtained by this newspaper.
Water service was restored Monday evening, according to the prison spokeswoman.
Portable toilets were placed in front of each housing unit and offenders were told they couldn’t drink system water or brush their teeth with it until 24 hours after service was restored, according to a memo sent on behalf of Shelbie Smith, the prison’s warden.
The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction did not respond to a question about what caused the water outage.
The city of Dayton confirmed its Water Department was notified of a water line rupture at the facility Monday, but the leak was on prison property and not a city water main.
“We only maintain the line up to the property line and this was on their grounds so we considered it a private plumbing issue and they resolved the issue internally. Our field supervisor spoke to them on the phone but they were able to resolve it without us responding,” the city said in a statement.
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Communications obtained by the newspaper also show a number of changes in prison operations in recent days at Dayton Correctional.
Another memo from the warden shows that beginning Thursday, count time was moved 45 minutes earlier to 10 a.m. after which time inmates would receive a brunch. The combined breakfast and lunch consists of larger portions and inmates are allowed to take some back to housing units to eat later, according to the memo. A hot supper would continue to be served.
Offenders are not allowed to take cups to the dining hall, the memo reads, and commissary prices have been lowered.
“Thank you for your cooperation and continue to practice good hygiene including frequent hand washing, practice social distancing and wear your mask when outside of your cell,” Smith wrote in the memo.
Another memo shows inmates were directed on March 31 to alter sleeping positions. Those in bunk beds were ordered to sleep with heads opposite each other.
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