COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Right now, 1,950 inmates inside Marion Correctional Institution have tested positive for coronavirus, which is about 78 percent of the entire prison population.
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections said it’s taking aggressive action to stop the spread of the coronavirus, including having everyone wear protective masks and mass testing inside multiple prisons.
But according to one recently released inmate, it’s all too little, too late.
“They had ample time to stop it,” said former inmate Kevin Cherry.
After serving about a year behind bars on vehicular assault and theft charges, Cherry was released on April 11, but still hasn’t been home yet.
He is in a hotel after testing positive for COVID-19.
“I started showing symptoms the day after I was released and it came back positive,” Cherry said. “I’ve been quarantined ever since.”
Cherry is feeling healthy now, but back inside the prison walls, he said inmates are scared, and only getting two meals a day.
Cherry blames the outbreak on prison management for not taking precautions early and not testing enough.
“They even denied me testing before I left and I want that to be clear,” he said.
In a statement, ODRC said its notes indicate Cherry did not submit a request to be seen by medical until 12 30 A.M. on the morning of his release, adding that now the prison is testing every person inside whether they have COVID-19 symptoms or not.
The prison said it is taking drastic measures to limit interaction including limiting meals to two a day that total 2,700 calories and bringing in the National Guard to help operate while they work to stop the spread.
“I want the Governor asked why testing took so long,” Cherry said.
As for Cherry, while he recovers and looks forward to being home with his family, he’s still worried about those inside the prison, and what may come next.
“They were, we were all scared when it first hit,” he said. “I know a lot of guys down there and they were worried and I’m sure the fear factor has gone up.”
While the prison in Marion does have 1,950 positive tests, the prison reports only 38 require hospital-level care at this time.
The prison itself remains under a full quarantine.