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Coronavirus In Ohio: Inmates Will Start Sewing Their Own Face Masks

The Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville, Ohio.
Gabe Rosenberg
The Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville, Ohio.

While supplies of personal protective equipment remain tight, Ohio prison inmates will be making their own masks. 

Annette Chambers-Smith, director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, says prisons will use cotton material to make PPE for internal use.

“Ohio Penal Industries has ordered supplies to make cough masks and they will begin doing that, I believe, April 15,” says Chambers-Smith. “And I think they’ll be able to make 2 million when the products come, and that’s 5,000 a day.”

Chambers-Smith says the Marion Correctional Institution is also sending fabric to the Ohio Reformatory for Women.

“The people who are incarcerated, they have access to sewing machines and things like that, so each prison is in the process of procuring things what they need to have locally so that the people who live there can make masks as well,” Chambers-Smith says.

Preventing the spread of coronavirus at Ohio's prisons has been a topic of concern for many. The state banned visitors at prisons and jails early in the coronavirus crisis.

According to the ORDC, no Ohio inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 yet, although two tests are still pending.

But this week, the entire Marion Correctional Institution was put under quarantine after positive test results came back for one staff member.

ODRC noted on its website that MCI is now operating under modified movement, with more than 2,500 people being separated by unit. Officials say every inmate is monitored daily for symptoms and has their temperature taken.

A Marion inmate that had transferred to Franklin Medical Center has also been quarantined, along with five other FMC inmates living near him.