Ohio National Guard to help with coronavirus at Elkton federal prison

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW)– Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine authorized the Ohio National Guard to help with the coronavirus situation at Federal Correctional Institution Elkton in Columbiana County.

DeWine said there are seven confirmed cases of COVID-19 in inmates at the prison. Dozens more are showing symptoms and three have died, he said.

Ohio National Guard General John Harris told DeWine the medical staff at Elkton is half of what it should be. For every federal inmate at the hospital, they need two federal guards standing watch.

DeWine said the Ohio National Guard will send 26 service members to the prison to help in the infirmary for seven to 10 days. This is a medical mission only. The soldiers will not be armed, DeWine said. The Ohio National Guard will also take equipment and ambulances.

“Providing state help for this federal prison is the right thing to do,” DeWine said on Monday.

The governor emphasized this is a federal facility and it is not run by the state. He does not have the authority to release inmates.

DeWine also asked federal authorities to stop the intake of new inmates at Elkton. It is the only federal prison in Ohio.

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