Richland Correctional Institution

The Richland Correctional Institution opened in 1998.

MANSFIELD -- The COVID-19 outbreak inside the walls of the Richland Correctional Institution is rapidly worsening, according to the Ohio Dept. of Rehabilitation and Correction website, including more than two dozen hospitalizations.

According to the ODRC website Monday afternoon, 48 inmates at the Mansfield prison are currently positive for coronavirus, up 71 percent from one week ago, when 28 inmates were listed as positive.

The dormitory-style prison at 1001 S. Olivesburg Road on the city's northeast side, had 2,174 inmates in quarantine (out of 2,332) and 66 in isolation, according to the ODRC. The state reported 19 tests awaiting results and 22 inmates have recovered.

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On Sept. 21, there were 1,829 inmates in quarantine, 35 in isolation and 18 tests pending.

In addition, 53 members of the prison's staff have tested positive, up from 17 one week ago. The website said 11 staff members have recovered, up from four last week. 

ODRC spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said Monday evening that 25 inmates have been hospitalized with COVID-19 infections -- 14 admitted at The Ohio State University Medical Center in Columbus and 11 to OhioHealth Mansfield Hospital.

There have been no COVID-19 deaths at RICI, Smith said.

Mansfield Fire Department officials said Monday they transported 17 inmates to OhioHealth in a five-day period from Wednesday to Sunday.

Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed, or potentially exposed, to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick.

Smith said each cohort, or housing unit at RICI, is quarantined within itself.

"All services and activities are done within each individual cohort," she said. "Facility leadership is currently evaluating creative scheduling options in order to accommodate operational needs and the needs of the residents.

"Other facilities have provided staff resources to assist with the daily symptom screening process," Smith said.

As a result of the increasing number of positive COVID-19 test results involving staff and residents at Richland Correctional Institution (RiCI) during the past month, additional modifications to operational procedures were put in place, smith said.

"This includes assigning the residents to more restrictive cohorts (cohorting has been in place for several months) and bringing essential services to the housing units to minimize movement and interaction among residents," she said.

She said established cohorts do not intermingle with other cohorts.

"Just like in a residential household, individuals in a correctional setting who are residing in a specific living unit or cohort may interact with one another, but these cohorts do not interact with other cohorts," she said.

"Individuals are encouraged to maintain social distancing when possible, and there is also some personal responsibility by the residents to help achieve this," Smith said.

City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when the page was blank?"