Ohio prison director Annette Chambers-Smith, who oversees two lockups where an outbreak of COVID-19 infected thousands of inmates, has tested positive for the coronavirus, reports the Columbus Dispatch. Chambers-Smith was tested Friday, when she started to feel ill. The state said her symptoms are “mild” and she “is currently working from and managing her symptoms at home.” Contact tracers are trying to determine who might have come into contact with Chambers-Smith at the department’s Operation Support Center. Most employees have been working from home.
The director has not been inside a prison since June 26, and she last worked at the Operation Support Center last Tuesday. Early in the onset of the pandemic in Ohio, COVID-19 ripped through several state prison’s. Marion and Pickaway correctional institutions were particularly hard hit. It has slowed in the last few months. As of Monday, 77 prisoners have died from the coronavirus, and 11 more deaths are linked to the outbreak. Five prison staff members have died. “For months, managing COVID within Ohio’s prisons has been my single highest priority,” Chambers-Smith said. “While I am focusing on my health and doing what is recommended – which is to monitor my symptoms and self-quarantine, I will continue to ensure [her department] is taking all necessary steps and precautions to maintain the health and safety of all of our staff and incarcerated population. Our agency continues to be in good hands, and we are working together as a team during these challenging times.” In all, 934 prison staffers have had COVID, along with 4,423 inmates. The system reports 140 staffers with active cases, and 129 inmates.