Coronavirus Update: Possible Prison Releases, COSI Layoffs & More
Keep up with regular news updates regarding Columbus and Ohio’s response to COVID-19 here.
As of Friday, April 3, Franklin County has 503 cases of COVID-19 of the state’s reported 3,312 cases. Ohio’s death count rose to 91, while the county remained at five.
Positive COVID-19 related news to end the week comes from Boston beer company Samuel Adams and its restaurant worker fund, and the encouraging numbers coming out of Ohio’s response to the outbreak. There is also some unfortunate news, including the laying off of over 80% of COSI’s employees.
38 Inmates Could Be Released
On Friday, Governor Mike DeWine announced that his office would be sending letters to county judges suggesting a number of inmates who should be let out early due to COVID-19 concerns inside state prisons and the inability for people to properly social distance in prisons.
The governor suggested 38 people — 23 women who are pregnant or have recently had a child, and 15 people who are 60 or over and are within 120 days of release — for potential release, leaving it up to the judge that presided over their case or a judge that now occupies that seat to make the decision.
The governor stated that inmates who have infractions and warrants in other states, or who have been convicted of murder, domestic violence, sexual assault and other violent crimes would not be released.
Hearings for these early releases would be held remotely, and victims and prosecutors would be notified and given the chance to provide a statement.
In response, ACLU Ohio Chief Lobbyist Gary Daniels said on Twitter Friday afternoon that Governor DeWine’s announcement of the possible release of 38 people was “hugely disappointing,” adding, “Ohio prisons are 10,000 above capacity. Ohio must act much quicker and much bolder.”
The Columbus Dispatch is reporting that a federal judge denied the state of Ohio’s request on Thursday to delay an earlier order, which allows Ohio abortion clinics to provide abortions if necessary due to medical reasons or time sensitivity while a state health order preventing nonessential medical procedures to preserve personal protective equipment is in effect.
COSI announced on Friday the temporary layoff of over 80% of its overall workforce. The layoffs impact 98 of the center’s 145 full-time employees and all of its 125 part-time and temporary employees. COSI said it will continue to pay its portion of the healthcare premiums of laid-off employees who receive healthcare benefits through the end of June.
“Just a few weeks ago our team was celebrating being voted the number one science museum in the country. Now, we face the same unprecedented crisis that is confronting museums and businesses all over America,” said COSI President and CEO Dr. Frederic Bertley. “I am fraught with sadness for our fantastic team members who make COSI the great institution that it is, and are now the latest individuals impacted by this unforgiving pandemic.”
For more information on COVID-19 in Ohio, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.