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Ohio Prisons Start To Welcome Visitors Again

Marion Correctional Institution is the largest hotspot of coronavirus cases in the country.
Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections

Some Ohio prison inmates are once again able to greet visitors, another positive sign for a system that’s been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Visits resume this week at Marion Correctional Institution—the site of a major COVID-19 outbreak last April. They began last week for two other facilities, and most of the remaining state prisons will open for visits March 1.

Speaking on WOSU's All Sides With Ann Fisher on Monday, Roni Burkes-Trowsdell from the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction's Office of Reentry says they’re trying to balance safety with the need for connection.

“You know, we’re limiting the number of visitor that can visit someone, two per session, as well as how many visits can occur, and then we’re also limiting the age to children who are 12 and over," Burkes-Trowsdell said.

She explains the restriction on young children is because they might not understand the need for social distancing.

"It’s been certainly a difficult challenge for the families and the men and women that we serve every single day, but we're doing our best because we know how important visits are,” she says.

As of Sunday, the state reports that over 130 inmates and 10 staff have died from COVID-19.

What lingering questions do you have about COVID-19 and Ohio's response? Tell us below, and WOSU may report the answer for a future story.


Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.