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Half Of Franklin County Juvenile Detention Center Staff Test Positive For COVID-19

A sign for the Franklin County Domestic Relations and Juvenile Court in Columbus.
Adora Namigadde
A sign for the Franklin County Domestic Relations and Juvenile Court in Columbus.

The Franklin County Juvenile Detention Centeris the latest correctional facility to be impacted by the coronavirus.

As of Tuesday, 27 staffers and 14 juveniles have tested positive for COVID-19.

All juveniles at the center are undergoing testing, with 18 cases still pending. Per the recommendation of Columbus Public Health, everyone is being isolated or quarantined until test results are completed.

Of the staff members, 20 are corrections officers, five are managers and two are crisis counselors. The court transitioned its employee system in March, so half the current staff has tested positive.

Franklin County Administrative Judge Kim A. Browne says that no one has been sick enough to require hospitalization, and that the court will continue updating case information as it changes and becomes available.

The court says it is working with the Columbus health department and Nationwide Children’s Hospital to provide care for juveniles who test positive.

The Juvenile Justice Coalition, a progressive activism group housed in Columbus, released a statement after the court announced the news.

“Positive staff cases should sound the alarm bells," wrote director Aramis Sundiata. "The virus can only get into facilities if it is brought in, and detained youth cannot socially distance from staff, meaning the young people inside have now been exposed and endangered."

The coalition recommends releasing juveniles who are currently incarcerated.

Ohio's Department of Youth Service reports that 21 youth have tested positive at juvenile prisons, with almost all of the cases coming from Cuyahoga Hills Juvenile Correctional Facility.

Inside adult facilities, 37 inmates and two prison employees have died from COVID-19 in Ohio.

Adora Namigadde was a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU News in February 2017. A Michigan native, she graduated from Wayne State University with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in French.