COLUMBUS, Ohio—Marion Correctional Institution officer John Dawson has died from the coronavirus, Gov. Mike DeWine said Wednesday, marking the first time an Ohio prison staffer has died from the spreading pandemic.
The 55-year-old Mansfield resident had underlying health issues, the governor said. He tested positive for the virus on March 30, and at one point was placed on a ventilator, according to the Marion Star.
Dawson had worked in the Marion prison, a minimum- and medium-security facility for men, since 1996, DeWine said. He worked in the prison’s control center handing out equipment to staff, the governor said.
“Mr. Dawson’s death reminds us that as we celebrate the fact that Ohio is doing comparatively well, we are still seeing a large number of deaths,” DeWine said during his daily briefing at the Ohio Statehouse. As of Wednesday afternoon, 193 Ohioans have died of the disease, and a total of 5,148 have tested positive.
To date, 48 staffers and 17 inmates have tested positive at seven of Ohio’s 31 prisons, the governor said. So far, Dawson is the only one to die.
As of Tuesday afternoon, seven of those inmates were at the Marion facility. Dawson was the second staffer at the Marion prison to test positive, according to DeWine.
DeWine said officials are “very aggressively testing” in state prisons. “When someone has symptoms, they are tested,” he said.