LIMA — Inmates at Allen Oakwood Correctional Institution in Lima have joined the fight against the novel coronavirus by manufacturing hospital gowns, with plans also in the works to add surgical masks to the prison’s production line in the near future.
Inmates throughout the state are manufacturing masks, hand sanitizer and other personal protection equipment, Gov. Mike DeWine announced earlier this week. The goods being produced at many of the state’s 31 correctional facilities will, at least for the immediate future, be for use only inside prison walls around the state, according to Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction spokeswoman JoEllen Smith.
Joanna Factor, a spokeswoman at the Lima prison, referred all questions surrounding the program at the Allen Oakwood Correctional Institute to the ODRC official.
Smith wrote in an email that Allen Oakwood inmates had already made 650 hospital gowns as of Monday and will manufacture a total of 44,000 as soon as additional fabric is secured. An order of an additional 100,000 yards of material has been placed for future production, Smith said. Once that shipment is received, the facility will manufacture between 1,200 and 1,500 protective gowns daily.
Inmates in Lima and at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville, which house mostly minimum- and medium-security inmates, are also set to make up to 2 million surgical masks, worn by coronavirus patients to catch droplets from sneezes and coughs, Smith said.
Officials at the Pickaway and Mansfield correctional institutions are working to procure the materials needed for inmates there to manufacture face shields, which protect the entire front of people’s heads, rather than just the nose and mouth, Smith added.
Additionally, approximately 2,880 gallons of hand sanitizer has been ordered and is expected to arrive early to mid-April. Ohio Prison Industries inmates will separate the hand sanitizer into varying sized containers and make this available to the staff and incarcerated individuals within state correctional facilities.
On average, Ohio inmates working at the sites listed above are paid 39 cents per hour, or about $56 per month, according to the ODRC spokeswoman.
So far, no inmates at any of Ohio’s 31 prisons have tested positive for coronavirus. Of the 25 inmates tested, 22 of the tests returned negative and the results of three tests were still pending on Wednesday.
One staffer for Marion Correctional Institution, a minimum-to-medium-security facility, has tested positive, officials said Sunday.