Why did 77 Ohio prisoners die of COVID-19, but just 10 in Pennsylvania?

A look at how overcrowding and poor design contributed to two of the worst national outbreaks

This article was provided by Eye on Ohio, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Ohio Center for Journalism. Please join our free mailing list as this helps us provide more public service reporting. For the first two months after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S., Ohio’s response set an example. Thanks to an early shutdown order, the state’s per-capita deaths from the virus as of late April were less than half of those in neighboring Pennsylvania, a state with similar demographics. But inside the two states’ prison systems, it was a different story. 

By late April , the death rate from COVID-19 in Ohio prisons was 22 per 100,000, a rate more than 4 ½ times the overall Ohio rate and nearly twice the national rate. 

As of August 14, there have been 77 inmate deaths known to be caused by COVID-19, and another 10 suspected— a rate of 160 deaths per 100,000 people.

Ohio Schools & Nonprofits Scramble to Add Remote Learning Options For Students With Limited Connectivity

This article provided by Eye on Ohio, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Ohio Center for Journalism. Please join our free mailing list as this helps us provide more public service reporting. When districts switched to remote learning in the spring, the COVID-19 pandemic revealed a glaring divide: for example two-thirds of students in Cleveland Metropolitan School District didn’t have access to a device, and 40 percent of families didn’t have Internet access at home, according to a survey of parents conducted by CMSD . With Cleveland Metropolitan School District soon returning to school in a remote-only format, the District is currently in a mad dash to prepare students, teachers and families for their first week of school with the COVID-19 pandemic still looming large. The District has its work cut out for it.

How can COVID-19 be stopped among homeless communities? One Ohio city looks to hotels

This article  is part of the Northeast Ohio Solutions Journalism Collaborative, a project composed of 16 Greater Cleveland news outlets including Eye on Ohio, which covers the whole state.  To support us, please sign up for our free newsletter or text 216-867-6327. A cherry-colored 10-speed rests inside the door of room 123 at a hotel on the west side. It’s overturned, forks facing the ceiling, a deflated front tire slung over a pedal. Abel Currie has crisscrossed Cleveland on the vintage bike, sometimes on a shady park trail, other times packing a lunch and heading to the lakefront. Lately, his rides have been an escape from the stresses of the coronavirus pandemic, which have created chaos, especially for those experiencing homelessness.

Kindred care: Congolese refugee community takes care of its own, and others, during COVID-19

Every Wednesday afternoon, members of the Congolese Community of Greater Cleveland (CCGC) in Cleveland’s Clark-Fulton neighborhood file onto Elijah Kidjana’s porch to grab donated boxes of fruit and vegetables. Some have lost their jobs due to coronavirus shutdowns. Others are searching for ways to feed children who can no longer access free school lunches. When asked whether he’s worried about so many home visitors in the midst of a pandemic, Kidjana just tightens his face mask and laughs. “There are many things that will kill the Congolese people before coronavirus,” he says.

Families weigh the risks of sending a loved one to a nursing home during the coronavirus pandemic

Data analysis and Graphics by Cid Standifer 

In early March, just as Ohioans were learning about the first cases of novel coronavirus in the state, Anna Bondar’s grandfather fell at his Cleveland home. Luckily, the 92-year old, who lives with dementia, wasn’t injured badly. The tight-knit family started to discuss the possibility of a nursing home, though they had serious reservations. Their tough choice was made even more difficult by mounting fears about the coronavirus.  In nearly four months, COVID-19  has infected more than 31,191 people statewide and has proven particularly deadly for residents of long-term care facilities in Ohio. Seventy percent of the reported deaths in Ohio due to COVID-19 complications have been in long-term care facilities, which is among the highest in the country. 

Nationally the portion of COVID-19-related deaths in long-term care facilities has hovered just over 40%, though the amount of testing done in nursing homes varies significantly by state. 

Every day, families like Bondar’s are making what can feel like an impossible choice – whether to send a loved one to a nursing home where they will receive around-the-clock specialized care but face a greater risk of contracting COVID-19, or to care for that person at home where risk of transmission is lower but providing care can be more challenging. 

Even before the pandemic, sorting through the myriad of quality ratings and measures was daunting enough.