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DeWine Calls For Early Release Of 38 Prisoners; Coronavirus Update, April 3, 2020

Updated: 5:45 p.m., Friday, April 3, 2020

Gov. Mike DeWine is recommending 38 Ohio prisoners for early release to minimize the potential spread of the coronavirus.

“Whenever we have a gathering of people during this coronavirus crisis, we worry about it,” DeWine said. “Prisons by their very nature are a gathering of people.”

The recommendations for release will be sent beginning Friday via letter to judges in counties where the 38 prisoners were sentenced, DeWine said Friday during his daily briefing. Judges will be left to determine whether to schedule a hearing or if the prisoners are fit to be released early.

“These are not violent offenders, people who are sex offenders, domestic abusers or murderers,” DeWine said. “These individuals seem to make sense to release early.”

The prisoners recommended for release fall into two groups, DeWine said. Twenty-three are women who are either pregnant or who had a child in prison. The other 15 are men and women age 60 or over within 60 days of their planned release. None have records of major infractions while incarcerated nor warrants for their arrest in another state, the governor said.

“The normal notification to victims and prosecutors will apply to those hearings that the judges will conduct,” DeWine said.

Ohio currently has a total prison population of 48,991.

“No one is saying that [releasing 38 people] is going to open up a lot of space in our prisons,” DeWine said.

But he said that pregnant women in particular were being recommended for release because they require care that brings them into contact with others – leading them to become potential carriers and spreaders of the virus among their fellow inmates.

Additional prisoners may be recommended for release in coming weeks, DeWine said.

DeWine also announced that the Ohio Department of Health and The Ohio State University are partnering to manufacture testing liquid, tubes and swabs in-state, and then send them “in the next several days” to hospitals across Ohio, in an effort to improve COVID-19 detection rates.

“For hospitals around the state lacking these and not able to do tests, help is on the way,” DeWine said.

The governor also said he wants more of the state’s hospitals to join the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, MetroHealth and The Ohio State University Hospital in accepting and analyzing test kits from other places, in order to speed detection of those who are infected.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ohio

Ohio had a total of 3,312 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Friday afternoon – up about 14 percent from Thursday – and 91 deaths, according to Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton. Among confirmed cases, 895 people were hospitalized and 288 people were in intensive care.

Acton encouraged Ohioans to continue diligently following the state’s stay-at-home order, which now extends to May 1.

“Every day that we’re doing this social distancing, it’s another day to find more [personal protective equipment] for the frontlines, it’s another day that we don’t overwhelm our hospital systems,” Acton said.

At the same time, she asked people to avoid stigmatizing others who do fall ill as the state reaches peak infection rates, anticipated between April 15 and May 15.

“If someone is sick on your street, in your neighborhood, we needn’t fear each other,” Acton said. “The first question should be, ‘How can we help?’”

Ohio National Guard Adjutant General Maj. Gen. John Harris provided an update on efforts to build out non-hospital space in existing buildings to care for the expected onslaught of patients.

“The facilities we’re looking at building out are for the less sick patients,” Harris said, with the intent that rooms in hospitals can be reserved for those who are sickest or are members of high-risk groups.

“You may not see trucks full of construction equipment and builders building things,” Harris said. “We’re going to go into a larger facility… maybe assembling partitions, the transportation of beds.”

Amid reports of rising unemployment and layoffs, Lt. Governor Jon Husted said he's heard positive news from business owners regarding federal loans. He encouraged others to contact their lenders to learn more.


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Mike DeWine 040220.jpg