Gov. Mike DeWine said Monday he was sending a contingent from the Ohio National Guard to help the only federal prison in the state following a formal request for help in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic.

DeWine said at his daily news conference that three inmates at Federal Correctional Institution Elkton have died; dozens more have symptoms — some very serious.

Elkton is a low-security federal prison in Lisbon in Columbiana County, about 70 miles southeast of Akron. Elkton houses 2,040 inmates in the main prison and another 417 inmates at a satellite facility.

Although responsibility for the prisoners rests on the federal corrections system, DeWine said a state team that visited the site reported that there is no doubt that additional assistance is needed to address the outbreak there. The National Guard aid is limited to seven to 10 days for an unarmed team consisting of at least 26 Guard members.

Also Monday, the state Department of Health said Ohio now has 4,450 confirmed coronavirus cases, based on limited testing, and a death toll of 142. The caseload is a 10% increase from Sunday’s total.

Among those cases, 1,214 people are hospitalized and 371 of those patients are being treated in intensive care units.

The state’s announced count, which does not always immediately match up with locally reported totals, shows 189 cases with 10 deaths in Summit County (the county on Monday afternoon reported 192 total cases), 109 cases with seven deaths in Stark County, 83 cases with three deaths in Medina County, 94 cases with five deaths in Portage County, 26 cases in Wayne County and three cases in Ashland County. Confirmed cases have been documented in 81 of Ohio’s 88 counties.

Several data models used by the state show the outbreak heading toward its Ohio peak late this month or early next month. Gov. Mike DeWine last week signed a new order extending his initial stay-at-home mandate, which had been set to expire today, through May 1 in an attempt to lessen the impact of the expected surge and the strain that it is expected to place on hospitals.

The extension includes orders for stores that have been permitted to remain open to limit the number of customers inside starting Tuesday to help ensure safe social distancing practices.

DeWine announced that two Northeast Ohio sites, the Case Western Reserve University medical campus in Cuyahoga County and the Covelli Centre arena in Youngstown, are among several around the state that have been selected to assist regional hospitals as overflow sites for COVID-19 treatment.

Cuyahoga County is coping with the biggest caseload in the state, with 871 patients and 15 deaths; the immediate Youngstown area leads the state in fatalities, with 17 among the 272 cases in Mahoning County.

State prisons update

DeWine also discussed the situation developing within the state’s own corrections system, announcing Monday that the state may release some prisoners in response to the spread of the coronavirus.

Five prisoners in the Marion Correctional Institution, a state prison, have also tested positive for the virus, DeWine said.

DeWine said prisoners who will be under consideration for release because of the virus include those who are serving time for a nonviolent offense and those who might be getting close to a release date anyway. The state will release more detailed information Tuesday, the governor said.

“First of all we’re not going to release anyone who is dangerous,” DeWine said. “We have a long list of the type of prisoners we are not releasing.”

DeWine said he was updated about circumstances at the federal prison over the weekend, and even though inmates there come from all over the country, the state’s offer to help was important because many of the facility’s employees are Ohio residents.

The three federal inmates at Elkton all died on April 2 at a local hospital, according to Bureau of Prison news releases. They were Frank McCoy, 76; Margarito Garcia-Fragoso, 65; and Woodrow Taylor, 53.

The Bureau of Prisons said all three men had long-term, preexisting medical conditions and were inmates at the smaller satellite prison.

McCoy reported to health services on March 26, followed by Garcia-Fragoso on March 27 and Woodrow on March 31.

McCoy, who was serving 10 years for possession of child pornography, had been at Elkton since 2017.

Garcia-Fragoso was serving more than 10 years on drug and weapons charges and had been at Elkton since 2017.

Taylor was serving five years on a drug charge and had been at Elkton for almost a year.

McCoy and Garcia-Fragoso both tested positive for COVID-19. Taylor was tested for COVID-19 but died before the results came back.

Columbiana County has had 53 COVID-19 cases with 33 hospitalizations and five deaths, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

The Bureau of Prisons reported a staff member and seven inmates had tested positive for COVID-19 at Elkton as of Sunday.

Economic response

Mass layoffs because of the coronavirus have spiked unemployment claims in Ohio and across the country in recent weeks. Despite that, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said employers are still looking to hire more than 29,000 Ohioans.

Husted encouraged employers to start thinking about the future when restrictions are loosened and people are able to go back to work. He said they should start looking into providing or requiring masks and should make sure they have enough cleaning supplies.

“All of those things help create a safe workplace, which will make sure we stay healthy when we come out of this,” Husted said.

Shane Hoover of The Canton Repository and Max Filby of The Columbus Dispatch contributed to this report.

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