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Ohio Coronavirus Update | Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ohio reach 4K

Ohio Department of Health data show 4,043 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 119 deaths. Lucas County has 302 confirmed cases, according to state data.

COLUMBUS, Ohio —

Sunday

New numbers

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ohio went up to 4,043 while 119 people have died over the disease, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

As of Saturday, 1,104 patients were hospitalized and from those, 346 were in intensive care.

Data of all counties as reported by the health department can be found here. 

Saturday 

New numbers

The Ohio Department of Health updated the COVID-19 cases in the state Saturday. There are now 3,739 confirmed cases, 102 deaths and 1,006 patients hospitalized.

Of all the patients hospitalized, 326 are in intensive care.

Data of all counties as reported by the health department can be found here

Masks

Gov. Mike DeWine addressed the advisory from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory asking Americans to wear homemade masks. 

DeWine said on days he is out in public, he will wear a homemade mask made by his wife, Fran DeWine. 

The governor and Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton stressed those masks are not the ones the medical community wears and they are not as efficient. They added these masks should be used as an addition to all precautions we have been taking.

Acton said there are instructions on how to make these masks on the coronavirus.ohio.gov website, including information on which cloths are more effective. She added studies show these masks are only 80% effective, and a virus can get through them. 

The governor and the director also made an effort to let the public know those masks should be used to prevent people from spreading the virus and people should wash their faces and hands before wearing them. 

Meanwhile, DeWine said Battelle is sterilizing masks and agreed to do so for free during the next two weeks. The governor encouraged hospitals to send their masks to the lab. 

DeWine and Acton also said they are procuring more masks and trying to get them as quick as they can. 

Hospital bed capacity 

DeWine said Ohio's bed capacity has significantly increased in the past weeks, mostly thanks to hospitals internally making efforts to get more beds. 

The governor also said they were able to increase that number by postponing or canceling elective surgeries. 

Additionally, the Ohio National Guard will start building field hospitals soon, DeWine said. 

Credit: WTOL


Telehealth 

DeWine announced he signed an executive order Saturday expanding the use of telehealth services in Ohio. 

Normally, a person would have to meet their health care provider face-to-face before being able to get those services remotely. Now, the governor has removed that barrier so people can get the care they need while staying at home. 

Both physical care and mental care services are available through telehealth and the governor said he wants to ensure people have access to those services in order to care for themselves. 

RELATED: What is telemedicine? Virtual doctor visits skyrocket due to coronavirus crisis

Wi-fi hotspots 

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said the state government understands the struggle for some Ohioans to get internet access. 

He said while some people don't have any internet provider, others don't have reliable internet access. But there are several internet hotspots around the state people can go to in order to get access. 

The state administration has posted those hotspots on the coronavirus.ohio.gov website under the resources for economic support tab and then on the individuals and families tab. You can also click on this link.

Husted also asked internet service providers that have spots not posted on that website to let the state administration know, so they can add it to the list.

Elderly Ohioans  

Ohio Department of Aging Director Ursel McElroy joined the briefing via teleconference and provided an update on measures in place aimed at protecting older Ohioans. 

McElroy said the department is mainly concerned at maintaining essential care to older Ohioans right now. Some precautions being taken have added other concerns to this group, like, for example,  getting food and other supplies while having to stay home, she said. 

The director said her department has been working with community partners in order to deliver food to older residents and address other issues. 

She also said this crisis has taken a greater toll on the ones diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia and those who have loved ones going through this issue should contact their local Alzheimer’s association.

McElroy reminded the public there is information available on coronavirus.ohio.gov on how people can assist the elderly right now.  

The director also addressed other precautions in place for the elderly, such as limiting visitation on nursing and assisted living facilities as well as encouraging restricting the back and forth of people in independent living facilities.

Finally, McElroy thanked caregivers in Ohio for all they do, especially during times of emergency and crisis such as this one. She reminded those caring for others to also care for themselves.

Caring for oneself is very important and will benefit loved ones, she said.

If you are struggling to cope with the coronavirus pandemic, you can find resources to take care of yourself here. 

Social distancing and the "curve"

Dr. Acton said about 41,000 people have been tested in Ohio; a number that does not represent Ohio's population well enough to tell experts what it means. 

But she did say there is data from Google, cellphones and traffic satellites that show Ohioans have been successful staying home and social distancing. 

She added numbers show there is a decrease in people going out to shop, while the number of retail deliveries has gone up, which is also positive. 

Ohioans have been flattening the curve, but can't let it go up - this is a war against time, she said. 

Friday

New numbers

As of Friday, there were 3,312 confirmed coronavirus cases total in the state of Ohio, and 91 people have died due to COVID-19. 

Of those cases, 895 people are hospitalized and 288 of those people are in intensive care.

The age ranges are younger than 1 year old up to 101 years old. The median age is 54. Of the confirmed cases, 49% are male and 51% are female.

Data of all counties as reported by the Ohio Department of Health can be found here: https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/home/dashboard 

RELATED: COVID-19: Why the numbers reported from local agencies may differ from ODH

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton said of those who have the coronavirus, about 20% are health care workers. 

Acton encourages people to continue to call 833-4-ASK-ODH if you have concerns or questions regarding COVID-19. 

With the question of ZIP code data showing number of cases in a certain area, Acton said it's helpful and it's not helpful. 

"A hotspot might not be a hotspot. It could be reflective of the number of testing in that area. Using these case numbers doesn't tell you who's (asymptomatic) and who's better," she said. 

Ohio prisons 

The governor said there are 38 state prisoners who may be released early, pending decisions by local judges. The individuals being considered are nonviolent, non-sex offenders. Letters are being sent Friday to local judges urging the release of those individuals.

Under consideration for early release are 23 women in prisons who are either pregnant or are in prison with a child, Gov. Mike DeWine said. In group two, there are 15 prisoners over the age of 60 who are within 60 days of release who are being considered for early release. 

Prisons are by their nature a gathering of a number of people, DeWine said, and said plans were in place a number of weeks ago to help stop the spread in the prisons. Screenings are being conducted of workers and contractors and a no-visit policy remains in place.  

"There is no system that is perfect. We've seen the problems that are happening in other states. We've had some guards come down," DeWine said. "But I felt it was important that we take a look at our 48,991 in prison right now. We started to look at different prisoners that it might make sense to let out early. We are sending letters to judges around the state at 38 prisoners who might be released early."

If the prisoners were released, it would be up to the local judge to determine if the prisoners would be released into the parole system, DeWine said. He noted that some of these prisoners are set to be released within 60 days anyway. A list of the 38 individuals will be released to the media, DeWine said. 

Small businesses & employment

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said that some of the relief efforts in the federal CARE Act are beginning to come online, including the Paycheck Protection Program from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

"COVID-19 is not just a health virus, it's an economic virus on us all. We've taken many steps to help Ohioans, but I received a call this morning from a few banks who said we finally got guidance from SBA for the loans in the Payment Protection Program as part of the CARE Act," he said. 

RELATED: Q&A: How small businesses hit by coronavirus crisis can get aid starting Friday

RELATED: Businesses may get COVID-19 relief loans as soon as Friday

The state job search website launched Thursday grew to more than 21,000 jobs available, Husted said. That website can be found at coronavirus.ohio.gov/jobsearch .  He highlighted the Ohio Veterans Home in Sandusky and Georgetown, which is in need of nursing assistants. 

In addition, Husted urges Ohioans and especially children to write letters to the veterans who live at the OVH facilities, to "serve those Ohioans who have served you." 

Education

"We are in uncharted territory when it comes to distance learning," Gov. Mike DeWine said Friday, as he recognized the hard work that the state teachers, administrators, parents and students are doing. A remote learning resource guide is being released to help parents see the best practices that are being developed and that can be accessed on coronavirus.ohio.gov. 

Acton chimed in on the issue of education, noting her husband is a teacher, and mentioned the "amazing" videos her husband's principal is issuing. 

"Students and teachers everywhere, I know you're doing things like making projects that can impact people's lives. Like random acts of kindness. I think almost everything we're doing in our online world can be turned into something like a JobsOhio or a Battelle. So keep that creativity going," she said. 

COVID-19 testing

The governor highlighted "Ohio ingenuity" in what he calls is an effort to get more testing and more testing taking place more quickly. He said hospitals are now shifting over to submitting tests to labs that quickly return results, and said several more hospitals could come online soon to return results quickly. 

Ohio State and the Ohio Department of Health are collaborating and are focused on filling some critical holes to expand testing. Swabs, collection tubes and testing liquid are on short supply. OSU and ODH are working to make sure these are produced in Ohio. Production of these items is starting and will be sent to hospitals around the state that are lacking these, DeWine said. 

"We want testing quicker and we want more tests," DeWine said. 

National Guard response

Adjutant Gen. John C. Harris Jr. is working with Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton to help ensure the medical capacity is enough for Ohio's patients.

"We are dialed in with a laser focus to make sure that when we hit the peak, we give the frontline warriors capacity they need," Harris said.

Harris said the Guard has a three- to four-week ahead look to see what other states and countries have experienced to ensure they are able to provide the best care possible. A regional approach is being used, Harris said.

"The facilities we are looking at building out are for the less-sick patients," Harris said. "What you may see in the communities may not look like what you've seen in other states. Most of the regions are taking the approach that we are going to go to a facility and build out a facility for the lesser sick patients. It's going to be different for every region," Harris said. 

This medical capacity build-out is occurring while the Guard is also conducting its food pantry missions and personal protective equipment collection missions. 

Harris also urged Ohioans to practice good "cyber hygiene" as more people work and shop from home. 

"Change those passwords," he said, "and make sure your kids are practicing good cyber hygiene" to help protect the network. 


Thursday 

Wearing a blue tie for World Autism Day, Gov. Mike DeWine took to the podium Thursday to give the state the latest update on COVID-19 in Ohio, telling residents the efforts will continue for another month. 

The governor announced the stay-at-home order is extended to May 1. This coincides with the current schools order to remain out of classrooms. 

This updated order has additions, in effect Monday. 

  • Overcrowding in stores was specifically touched on by the governor. The new order requires retail businesses to establish a number of people who should be in that business at one time. The state is not setting a certain number, leaving it up to the businesses to establish and post. Businesses then must keep no more than that set amount of people in the store at once. 
  • Anyone traveling into Ohio needs to quarantine for 14 days. Exceptions will be made for border travelers, such as people who regularly commute over the border for work. 
  • Weddings and funerals will not be regulated, but will be left to people's "good judgment," DeWine said. Receptions, however, must follow the same rules of no more than 10 people coming together. 
  • Campgrounds and swimming pools must be closed unless it's a single-family pool. 
  • Organized sports are prohibited, since it is impossible to keep the 6-foot minimum distance. 
  • People can fish, as long as they maintain the 6-foot minimum distance separation. 
  • State parks will remain open, though if people are too close and can't be separated, the parks director will take action. 

A state board for dispute resolutions will be established to evaluate and render guidance in situations where two local health departments have come to a different conclusion on what is or is not essential business. 

"Enforcement is a fundamental fairness issue," Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said. 

The dispute resolution board will have the force of law, and there will not be an appeal process, DeWine said. The decision of the commission will be final.

DeWine thanked Ohioans for the sacrifices they are making and acknowledged the strain many are feeling with being suddenly unemployed. 

"What you have done has saved a number of lives. We don't know when we will hit the peak. Between April 15 and May 15 is what Dr. Acton has said, but this changes based on the information we have. We know the surge is coming. You have been protecting the first responders, our hospital personnel who will be caring for someone who has the coronavirus," DeWine said. "You are buying time for our health care system to get the equipment it needs and to build the capacity so it doesn't get overrun. We still don't know if we can avoid that, candidly."

Rent/mortgages and unemployment 

Husted encouraged people to read Wednesday's order for clarification. 

"It did not say you do not have to pay your rent. It did not say you do not have to pay your mortgage. If you find you cannot pay, you need to work out the terms of that with your financial institution or your landlord. You need to make new arrangements," Husted said. 

In the last two weeks, 468,414 people have been added to the unemployment rolls in Ohio, Husted said. In all of 2019, 364,603 filed for unemployment. 

The ODJFS expects to add more than 1,000 employees to help with claims by next week and more technical help is also expected to be brought online, Husted said. 

Workers who lost their job related to coronavirus may use a mass claim number - 2000180 - on their application to help them expedite it through, Husted said.

Husted launched a new website that has immediate jobs available right now, and employers who need people to fill positions can also post on this website. He said there are 11,903 open jobs posted on a new website: coronavirus.ohio.gov/jobsearch

  

Masks and sterilizing 

The governor encourages people in retail to wear masks if they feel the need. 

"I've received texts and calls about people who are concerned abut working in retail, about whether they can wear a mask if they want to. That is just fine and we would encourage employers to let employees wear masks. We are short on N-95 masks, but the other masks (such as homemade ones) are fine," DeWine said. 

He also encourages hospitals to contact Battelle regarding the ability the company has to sterilize masks. They have the capacity, DeWine said. 

The governor also announced the formation of an economic advisory board to help the state move through the financial end of the coronavirus crisis. 

 

New numbers

As of Thursday, there were 2,902 confirmed coronavirus cases total in the state of Ohio, and 81 people have died due to COVID-19. 

Of those cases, 802 people are hospitalized and 222 are in intensive care units.

The age ranges are younger than 1 year old up to 99 years old. The median age is 53. Of the confirmed cases, 49% are male and 51% are female.

When it comes to how many people have recovered, Dr. Amy Acton said our understanding will fall short for some time. 

"Because of the lack of testing, it will be nearly impossible for some time to come, unless we can do serologic testing," she said.

Data of all counties as reported by the Ohio Department of Health can be found here: https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/home/dashboard

RELATED: COVID-19: Why the numbers reported from local agencies may differ from ODH

Request for PPE 

As of Thursday,  more than 600 businesses had gone online to see if they can help to fill the gap with needed personal protective equipment at https://repurposingproject.com/ 

Also on Thursday, Gov. Mike DeWine tweeted about the desperate need the state has for personal protective equipment for medical professionals and first responders.

"There is a critical shortage of personal protective equipment in Ohio and across the country. Please email together@governor.ohio.gov if you have any PPE that you can donate to help our healthcare workers and first responders," he tweeted. 

The most needed items are: 

  • Surgical gowns
  • Face/surgical masks
  • Gloves (nitrile, vinyl, butyl)
  • N-95 particulate respirators
  • Isolation gowns
  • Face shields
  • Tyvek coveralls
  • Thermometers
  • Foot coverings
  • Ventilator tubing

Wednesday

New numbers

As of Wednesday, there were 2,547 confirmed coronavirus cases total in the state of Ohio, and 65 people have died due to COVID-19. 

Of those cases, 679 people are hospitalized, with 222 of those people in intensive care units.

The age ranges are now younger than 1 year old up to 99 years old. The median age is 53. Of the confirmed cases, 49% are male and 51% are female.

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton likened the current stay-at-home circumstances we are under to the movie "Groundhog Day," and acknowledged how difficult it can be to remain calm and be kind. 

"Many of us are engaging on the phone. I want to encourage you to keep calling the ODH phone number, but remember there is someone on the other end of that phone. They may be having their own stress. We forget that everyone we interact with is going through the same stress. This is my plea to myself first and foremost but to all of us," Acton said. "Just like a virus is contagious, our moods are contagious and they spread to everyone." 

Data of all counties as reported by the Ohio Department of Health can be found here: https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/home/dashboard

Small business aid order

Gov. Mike DeWine signed an executive order to aid the state's small businesses. This includes a plea to lenders and landlords, asking them to suspend payments for 90 days. This order provides some assistance for small businesses in the area of their mortgage and rent payments.  

"We know that these businesses are hurting and have made hard choices," DeWine said.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said the order is important and seeks to put in place a 90-day pause and control the spread of economic hardship in the mortgage and rental industry. 

"The goal of this is to prevent foreclosures. You know that the federal government stopped the foreclosure on residential mortgages. You know that through actions of the legislature, the courts have the ability to suspend eviction," Husted said. 

"But there is a connectivity problem - if someone can't pay their rent and we're not evicting them, then the person who owns the complex isn't getting the money they need to pay their commercial loan. So we are creating a 90-day pause," he said.

For people who need to pay rent now and cannot, Husted said tenants should contact their landlords and work with them on the terms. 

"What this is focused on is people who can't pay due to the effects of coronavirus. We can't just have people not paying their rent if they are capable and their circumstances aren't covered by the COVID-19 pandemic," Husted said. "Talk to the bank, talk to the landlord. They are supposed to work with you."

Also Wednesday, DeWine stressed that In order to receive up to a $10,000 advance on a Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan, as a part of the CARES Act, businesses and nonprofits must submit a new application even if they previously submitted an EIDL application. Businesses should visit http://SBA.gov/Disaster for more information.

Also, DeWine highlighted the ability Ohio residents have to appeal health coverage claim denials made by residents' insurance companies with the Ohio Department of Insurance. Those with questions about appealing their insurer's health coverage decisions can call the department's consumer hotline at 800-686-1526 or file a complaint to start an appeal.

Testing

Acton signed an order Wednesday directed at all hospitals that do not do their own testing. Those hospitals that send their tests to a third-party are now required to send their test to a hospital that is doing its own testing. 

These hospitals have capacity and are willing to take on new tests, DeWine said.

"These labs are able to turn around tests much more quickly than private labs. The five-, six-day turnaround is unacceptable," the governor said. 

The Ohio Department of Health will continue to analyze tests, he said. 

Acton said that ODH is going to three shifts to help get tests turned around. 

Regarding the rapid tests that are coming on the market, DeWine said, the state will start using them just as soon as they are sent to Ohio. He anticipates this will start within the next week. The state will be using free-standing ERs, urgent care and other facilities that house a lab service, he said. 

Food access for Ohioans on SNAP

DeWine said the state has been working grocery stores and the department of agriculture, saying those with SNAP benefits can shop online now and will be able to pick up groceries this way. 

"To help ensure our most vulnerable Ohioans have access to food while helping to keep potential exposure to COVID-19 to a minimum, we have been working with our federal partners, the USDA and the grocery stores on a 'click and collect' option to get groceries," DeWine said.

"For those stores that do not have a mobile point of sale device, a SNAP recipient can continue to order online, then pick up the groceries/pay inside the grocery store. This option reduces the time SNAP recipients are in the grocery store and reduces the risk of community spread." 

Be a good shopper 

 Lt. Gov. Jon Husted shared several things that store owners are asking shoppers to do when out on their essential shopping trips to help protect their workers and others: 

  1. Keep space between you and others 
  2. Shop patiently 
  3. Limit shopping trips 
  4. Shop alone, when possible 
  5. Stay home when you're not feeling well 
  6. Wash/sanitize hands before and after 
  7. Don't touch your face while shopping
  8. Wear a mask/gloves if you can 
  9. Shop online for curbside pickup/delivery

FEMA disaster declaration 

The state was granted a FEMA disaster declaration on Tuesday that now allows funding from the federal government to flow. The federal government will be able to pick up costs for: 

  • Emergency Operation Center costs
  • State agency purchases in response to COVID
  • Disinfection of eligible public facilities
  • PPE
  • Temporary medical facilities and enhanced hospital capacity

Repurposing Project 

Gov. Mike DeWine introduced a new website that Ohioans can access to see a list of things needed by health care professionals to fight COVID-19. Some things are tubes, swabs, goggles, ventilators, gowns, etc. Visit repurposingproject.com to see how you can help. 

Earlier Wednesday on Twitter, DeWine pointed out steps that small businesses and nonprofits need to take to receive money from the Small Business Administration as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

Tuesday

New numbers

As of Tuesday, there were 2,199 confirmed coronavirus cases total in the state of Ohio, and 55 people have died due to COVID-19. 

Of those cases, 585 people are hospitalized, with 198 of those people in intensive care units.

The age ranges are now younger than 1 year old up to 99 years old. The median age is 53. Of the confirmed cases, 49% are male and 51% are female. There have been 29,191 people tested in the state.  

RELATED: COVID-19: Why the numbers reported from local agencies may differ from ODH

Dr. Amy Acton issued thanks for the video played Monday, saying the good news about the social distancing during the news conference is that "you couldn't see me bawling." 

She also pointed out the Harvard Business Review study released last week that discusses Italy's COVID-19 response. It examined Lombardia and Veneto and the difference in response time. 

The way the different regions of Italy responded made a correlation to how many lives were saved, Acton said. The study can be viewed by clicking here

"I feel that Ohio has made the decisive moves at the right time. You have to learn quickly and take in a lot of scientific information and make decisions," she said. "You've got to fight the war with what you've got. There are complex reasons that  have led to the perfect storm that w'ere seeing. This virus is faster than any bureaucracy."

New order: Ventilator inventory 

Dr. Amy Acton is issuing an order that Tuesday will allow the state to keep track of where ventilators are in Ohio and to gather a state inventory of breathing apparatus in the state. This will be a weekly tally of all machines in the state and will allow for the redistribution of breathing machines as needed. Along with mechanical ventilators, such machines as CPAP and BPAP machines typically used to treat sleep apnea will be included in the reporting. Exemptions are such devices that are in personal use or are in transit around Ohio. 

Inventory will be reported weekly online each Wednesday by 5 p.m., starting tomorrow, at coronavirus.ohio.gov/ventinventory Hospitals will continue to report their ventilators daily. 

Unemployment 

Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and the technology leaders have been told that the frustrations about getting through on the web system are persisting. 

"We wanted to bring a greater sense of urgency to solving these challenges," Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said. He said that vendors are adding 180 more people to take more phone calls and more capacity has been added to the online component. 

"For all of you who have had challenges, your voices are being heard. I want to emphasize that even if you have trouble, your benefits will be backdated to the date you were eligible to receive them," Husted said. 

The system has handled, in the past two weeks, twice as many people as usually file for unemployment overall, he said. 

RELATED: Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services offering step-by-step guide to filing for unemployment

RELATED: Fired? Furloughed? Laid off? What each of these mean for you while filing for unemployment amid coronavirus pandemic

There is a grace period in place for employers who cannot pay their health insurance premiums, Husted said. Also on March 20, an order went into place that allows out of care networks to provide the same rates as in network care, and COVID-19 tests will be covered. Insurance claims will not be denied on the basis of a person not having a valid driver's license, since Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicle locations are largely closed, Husted said. 

More information can be found online here: https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/home/resources-for-economic-support 

Honoring American Sign Language interpreters 

Gov. Mike DeWine also honored the state's American Sign Language interpreters by starting with a video from Ohio's School for the Deaf. 

"Our American Sign Language interpreters have gained well-deserved attention over the last few weeks. Thank you to the students and to our interpreters, for helping us keep as many Ohioans informed -- in as many ways -- as possible," a tweet from DeWine said.

Physical distancing 

The governor said the majority of Ohioans are doing a good job with the social distancing order and that it is working to keep people safer. 

It's an obligation of both the store that is open and the customers in the store to keep the social distancing requirement as outlined in the health department order. He also said stores should maintain separate hours for vulnerable populations and encouraged enough time be allotted to keep those people safe and prevent a surge of people. 

"I want you to think about every trip you make now," Acton said. "This isn't the time for browsing shopping."

Water in Ohio 

An order preventing water shutoffs in the state and reversing previous shutoffs will be in effect, after being signed by the head of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. Those who have had shutoffs must call their own water utility to have this reversed for no charge, the governor said. 

"You still must pay your bill going forward," DeWine said. He also said guidelines will be issued by the Ohio EPA to discuss how to flush lines properly that have been shut down for some time. 

Rapid test for COVID-19 

DeWine said Battelle and the Ohio State University have come up with a new test that gives rapid results. Now, they can do 200 per day. The goal is more than 1,000 per day. The OSU Wexner Medical Center will administer the new test under its existing FDA license.  

"We are still dealing with the scarcity of testing," Acton said. "Many of us are hearing clinically we have a case of coronavirus and are staying home. We can't report to you these numbers."

Mental health during stay-at-home 

Lori Criss, director of mental health and addiction services, provided an update on programs to keep Ohioans mentally healthy.

"While we're all busy on our physical health care, it can be stressful for all of us," Criss said. 

She acknowledged the stresses of being with people constantly at home and also the stress of being lonely if stuck without people. She encourages sticking to a schedule, having regular wake-up and meal times, and scheduling leisure time. For people who are living along, she encourages reaching out to others. 

"Checking on friends and family and neighbors who live alone is important right now. It's important to decrease the isolation they may be feeling right now," she said. 


Monday

Ohio schools 

On Monday, Gov. Mike DeWine ordered that Ohio's schoolchildren would remain out of school until at least May 1, at which time the plan would be re-evaluated. 

"I'd like to thank teachers and administrators, parents and students, you're doing great work," he said. 

It's now been 22 days since DeWine announced the state’s first three cases of the COVID-19, the novel coronavirus. Since then, the government has shut down schools and businesses deemed “non-essential” and ordered Ohioans to stay at home unless performing essential errands. 

When asked when he'd have to make a final decision on canceling the rest of the in-person school year or not, DeWine said, "we wanted to take this one chunk at a time. It's clear we won't be back in the classroom before May 1. You need to continue on until May 1. Is it possible it will have to continue remotely until the end of the school year? Yes, it is. We just don't know yet. The initial decision was made for the safety of students and also for the safety of all Ohioans." 

DeWine also said the school year could be extended into June or July, but said it's likely that remote work would just continue. 

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted also pointed out that Ohio's public television stations are now providing educational material on their channels to help with students' at-home educations.

Paolo DeMaria, Ohio’s superintendent of Public Instruction, previously said the goal is to provide age and grade-level appropriate, standards-based programs so Ohio students can continue to learn even if they have limited or no Internet access. 

“Go to the website of your local PBS TV affiliate, and you’ll find information about teaching resources and what the schedules are going to be like,” DeMaria said.  

 

Personal protective equipment 

The governor also said that Ohio's prisons are turning their manufacturing focus to creating personal protective equipment for health care professionals. These PPE will include face shields and masks, DeWine said. 

The governor also on Monday discussed the FDA approval of Battelle going forward at a high rate of mask decontamination, calling it a major victory. 

"This is a major breakthrough for us in Ohio, but we're also taking Ohio technology and making a difference in other states," DeWine said. The machines will help New York, Washington state and the Washington, D.C., area. 

DeWine also addressed reaching non-English speakers in Ohio.

"It's important that every Ohioan get all the information we have regarding coronavirus. Currently when you go to coronavirus.ohio.gov, it is in Spanish, Chinese and Somali," DeWine said. Right now, the top tips, the executive summary of information, is available in those three languages. Longer versions are also being translated into Arabic. Also, the press conferences are able to be viewed on OhioChannel.com and viewers can choose the closed captioning language preference.

National Guard update 

Adj. Gen. John C. Harris addressed the news conference via video from the Ohio Emergency Operations Center. 

"The main effort that's happening here is the preparation for the medical capacity surge, that we know we're going to need. ... For example, we're looking at leasing required facilities at needed, or looking at unused state buildings or even building facilities. We know that the workforce will be stressed during these peak periods. We're also looking to surge PPE. We are turning over every rock possible, including the public and private sector, to bring every resource to bear on this problem," Harris said. 

Harris said you will see service members in uniform in your communities doing assignments such as site assessment and liaison with local leaders to bring the right resources needed. 

Every person is a participant in this. Your actions will help to continue to flatten the curve. The actions we take now will determine how hard our front line providers' lives are during this peak," Harris said. 

Ohio and Michigan's surge

Gov. DeWine and Acton referenced speaking to the mayors of both Detroit and Toledo, regarding the influx of numbers of cases in Detroit. 

"Our hospital systems don't stop at the borders," Acton said. "I do think there is one thing we can take into account ... if you've traveled recently to one of those places that's a hotspot, you should stay at home and quarantine yourself voluntarily. The problem is that's starting to be everywhere." 

Unemployment benefits

Husted acknowledged that access to the state's unemployment website remains difficult at times, given the volume of people trying to access it. He urged patience and said an upgrade in servers has taken place. 

"If you've clicked on the website and there is a circle that shows you've clicked and it's processing, don't keep clicking. That will send you to the back of the line," Husted said. "Even if you get delayed in this, your eligibility will be backdated to the day you were eligible." 

He advises going on the site during nonpeak times. 

The call center is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the week and 9-1 p.m. on Saturdays. Husted said they've added 100 people to take calls. 

New numbers

As of Monday, there were 1,933 confirmed coronavirus cases total in the state of Ohio, and 39 people have died due to COVID-19. 

Of those cases, 475 people are hospitalized, with 163 of those people in intensive care units.

The age ranges are now younger than 1 year old up to 98 years old. The median age is 53. Of the people confirmed to have COVID-19, 50% are males and 50% are females. About 27,000 people have been tested, Dr. Amy Acton said.

"We know that is just the tip of the iceberg," she said. Acton urged labs to send tests to the Ohio Department of Health for a quick turnaround of hours, rather than days.

"Remember, with our limited testing we are testing the sickest people, the high-risk, and our healthcare workers," Acton said.

Acton now says the modeling shows the peak in Ohio could come in mid to late April, depending on how successfully Ohioans hold to the stay-at-home order. 

There are confirmed cases in more than 70 of Ohio's 88 counties. Area counties with cases, from Ohio Department of Health data, are: 

  • Lucas, 114 confirmed cases, 15 hospitalizations, 2 deaths
  • Wood, 13 confirmed cases, 6 hospitalizations
  • Defiance, 5 confirmed cases, 2 hospitalizations
  • Erie, 5 confirmed cases, 5 hospitalizations, 1 death
  • Fulton, 2 confirmed cases
  • Hancock, 3 confirmed cases, 1 hospitalization
  • Ottawa, 2 confirmed cases, 1 hospitalization
  • Seneca, 3 confirmed cases
  • Sandusky, 3 confirmed cases, 3 hospitalizations
  • Van Wert, 1 confirmed case, 1 hospitalization
  • Wyandot, 1 confirmed case, 1 hospitalization

Sunday

Late on Sunday evening, Ohio company Battelle announced that it had won approval from the FDA for their CCDS Critical Care Decontamination System to operate at "full capacity."

Earlier in the day, Ohio Gov. Mike Dewine made a public plea to the Food and Drug Administration Sunday during a press briefing, asking officials to fully approve Battelle's machine to sterilize surgical masks amid the PPE shortage due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

On Sunday morning,the FDA had decided to limit Battelle's daily sterilization efforts to only 10,000 surgical masks in Ohio despite the company's ability to decontaminate up to 160,000 per day.

The contamination system is now operating at the company's facility in West Jefferson, Ohio.

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