The two counties are adjacent to each other north central Ohio, separated by only one county.
Marion County is much half the size, population-wise, than its near neighbor to the east. The US Census Bureau estimated that 124,175 people lived in Richland County in 2019, as compared to 65,093 people in Marion County.
The statewide report released on Saturday on COVID-19 infections, however, shows dramatically different impacts of the virus, with the smaller county registering a 130% increase in just one day.
Richland Public Health’s COVID-19 update on Friday stated that there are 52 positive cases in Richland County. Of those, 18 are hospitalized, and there have been 18 recoveries.
Marion County, however, showed a one day increase of 555 confirmed cases on Saturday, bringing its total to 983. This figure meant that the county has the third-highest number of cases in Ohio, behind only Cuyahoga and Franklin Counties. On Sunday, the number of positive cases had grown to a staggering 1,834, the Marion Star reported. This places Marion County as having the highest number of such cases in Ohio.
This number also exceeds current coronavirus infections in 16 US states.
The reason for this difference is almost entirely the presence of a Coronavirus breakout at the Marion Correctional Institution, the hardest-hit prison in the state. Not only are inmates impacted, but over 90 employees at the prison have also tested positive.
The two counties are also among those in Ohio that house significant prison populations. The latest figures from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction released on Sunday, however, show that there is one positive case at the Mansfield Correctional Institution with six people in isolation, and there are no cases at the Richland Correctional Institution.
On Friday, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction announced that the Marion facility will now the second prison in Ohio to receive a deployment of National Guard troops to assist with critical functions of prison operation.