COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine addressed the state Thursday afternoon with new information on his administration's response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
DeWine said that a much-anticipated announcement regarding Halloween will be on the way Friday, as his team works to complete guidance for the holiday.
Thursday's presser brought updates on the school reporting dashboard, wastewater surveillance and help for migrant workers.
Here is a breakdown of what was discussed.
On Thursday, these were the reported trends:
- 1,067 new cases of coronavirus, compared to 21-day average of 1,084
- 25 new coronavirus-related deaths, compared to 21-day average of 24
- 65 new hospitalizations, compared to 21-day average of 70
- 15 new ICU admissions, compared to 21-day average of 10
PUBLIC HEALTH ADVISORY MAP
DeWine said that 69 counties stayed at the same level in the state's Public Health Advisory System.
Two counties, Preble and Summit, dropped from Level 3 (Red) to Level 2 (Orange) Thursday.
However, 11 counties jumped up from Level 1 (Yellow) up to Level 2 (Orange). Additionally, the number of counties exceeding the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's threshold for high incidence of 100 cases per 100,000 grew from 17 to 21.
CASES PER 100,000
Putnam County stayed at the top of the list, ranking counties in order of those with the most cases per 100,000 people to the least.
Putnam was reported to have 256 cases of coronavirus per 100,000 people over the last two weeks.
DeWine said that in Putnam, spread has been attributed to a number of large social gatherings, including multiple weddings. Spread has also been common among members of the same household.
Henry County remained in the top 10, but lowered from the fifth spot to seven, with 166 cases per 100,000 people.
Wood County, while not on the top 10 list, did exceed the CDC threshold of high incidence, with 104 cases per 100,000 over the last two weeks.
DeWine said he believes these numbers are important because it indicates that cases are rising steadily in a county. He explained that having high case numbers increases the chance of spreading the virus throughout the community if the right steps aren’t taken to slow the spread.
SCHOOL REPORTING DASHBOARD
Last month, DeWine ordered that schools create a reporting system for schools to let the public know when a positive case of coronavirus has been discovered.
The Schools Dashboard is now available on the state's coronavirus website.
DeWine said the resource gives parents and caregivers information to make decisions about their child’s education and social interactions.
The dashboard shows new and cumulative COVID-19 cases reported to schools by parents/guardians and staff. You can filter by county or school district and it includes students and staff.
DeWine made clear that even though a case may pop up at a school, it doesn't mean school leaders have been negligent or have done anything wrong. The status of the virus within schools will mirror what is happening in the community, he said.
"This is just one more effort to share information on what's going on when it comes to COVID," DeWine said.
CHILDREN AND COVID-19 DASHBOARD
Another dashboard regarding kids and COVID-19 will be made available Thursday on the state's coronavirus website.
This dashboard includes information about cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. It was created in consultation with the Ohio Children's Hospital Association.
One of the most troubling statistics, DeWine said, is the fact that Black children make up 45% of all hospitalized children with COVID-19 in the state. However, only 18% of the total population of Ohio kids under 18 years old are Black children.
Dr. Petty Manning from Cincinnati Children’s joined in on Thursday's conference. She explained that there are fairly consistent numbers of kids testing positive with the virus, but consistently low numbers of children who are hospitalized or severely ill.
Children who are older, mobile and more social are more likely to get COVID-19, she said.
Some kids, as they get older and have other health conditions, can become seriously ill, but kids can also be asymptomatic.
However, in terms of returning to school, Manning said the practices state and health leaders have been promoting - cleaning surfaces, wearing masks, maintaining distance, etc. - keep kids safe.
Manning suggested parents of different aged children look at the data as it's broken down by age groups, the region in which they live and school-specific data once it is available.
Manning also encouraged parents to get their kids their flu shots ASAP, as health providers worry about any Ohioan getting the flu and COVID-19 at the same time.
Leaders with the Ohio Dept. of Job and Family Services have begun distributing $300 per week in Lost Wages Assistance to eligible unemployment insurance recipients.
This assistance is available to Ohioans who received traditional unemployment benefits, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Trade Readjustment Assistance, SharedWork Ohio or extended benefits for weeks ending August 1 through September 5.
Halloween celebrations this year will not look like those in years past. Face coverings must be worn, social distancing should be practiced, large groups should be avoided, DeWine said, encouraging everyone to stay home if they find themselves feeling sick.
DeWine said his team is developing guidance that we will be shared on Friday on the state's coronavirus website to help communities and families plan ahead of the holiday.
DeWine announced Thursday a new rapid response guide for migrant and seasonal farmworkers in an effort to support health districts develop a culturally appropriate plan to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Additionally, the Ohio Dept. of Health will be awarding $2.6 million in CARES Act funding to agricultural camp operators to improve the health and safety of their worksites and camps to reduce COVID-19 transmission.
ODH is also partnering with the Ohio Dept. of Job and Family Services to distribute face masks, hand sanitizer, disinfectant cleaner, and digital forehead thermometers to workers and operators.
Ohio’s Coronavirus Wastewater Surveillance Network has been monitoring incoming waste at wastewater treatment plants around the state to test for gene fragments of COVID-19.
Ohio is currently testing in more than 30 cities across the state and will expand testing to more than 50 locations in the next month.
On Tuesday, these were the reported trends:
- 1,001 new cases of coronavirus, compared to 21-day average of 1,095
- 87 deaths, compared to 21-day average of 24
- 103 new hospitalizations, compared to 21-day average of 73
- 14 new ICU admissions, compared to 21-day average of 10
Tuesday brought the highest reported increase in deaths since early May and the third-highest since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
However, DeWine made clear that the emphasis is on the word "reported." While these were the deaths reported in the last 24 hours, they did not all occur within that same time frame.
DeWine explained that coroners have up to six months to certify a death certificate. While it usually does not take quite that long, DeWine said this often causes a delay between when a death occurs and when it is reported.
On Tuesday, DeWine displayed a graph showing deaths reported, by date of death. He said that the majority of the deaths reported on Tuesday actually occurred within the last month.
CASES PER 100,000
Putnam County remained at the top of the list of counties with the most cases per 100,000 people on Tuesday. The county was reported to have 280.6 cases per 100,000, which is more than double the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention threshold for high incidence of 100 cases.
Locally, Henry County jumped up on the list to the fifth spot, with 192.5 cases per 100,000.
Ohio Dept. of Aging Director Ursel J. McElroy joined in on Tuesday's conference to update the state on the status of testing withing nursing homes.
Between staff and residents, there are roughly 160,000 people that need to be tested.
McElroy said in nursing homes they test for three reasons:
- A person is symptomatic
- Someone tests positive within a nursing home
- Routine staff testing based on the extent of the virus in the community
The National Guard started off administering the tests, but have since transitioned into transporting the completed tests from the nursing homes to labs.
Outdoor visitation has been allowed for a few months now at these facilities. McElroy acknowledged that the weather is changing, but noted that her team doesn't plan on ending the practice anytime soon.
McElroy said that if someone is not able to visit a loved one, it could be for a number of reasons, including positive cases in the facility, significant community spread in the area where the facility is located, etc.
If someone has questions about visitation, they are encouraged to reach out to the Ohio Dept. of Aging.
A plan for indoor visitation has not yet been announced.
When it comes to assisted living facilities, there are about 80,000 people in the state that need to be tested. Testing in these facilities is done every other week.
McElroy said that it's important to note that in late Aug., they were notified of some testing data inconsistencies. Testing quickly paused in an effort to address the issue. McElroy said that her team has since identified the source of the problem and facilities will begin testing again this week.
ADULT DAYCARE AND SENIOR CENTERS
Adult daycare facilities and senior centers are able to reopen in the state on Sept. 21.
McElroy said staff and participants will be required to be tested, at a minimum, every other week at daycare facilities. For senior centers, only staff will be required to be tested every other week. Participants will be tested under what's called a "strategic testing model," meaning if someone displays symptoms, staff will insist they complete at coronavirus test.
OHIO TO WORK
DeWine announced "Ohio To Work" on Tuesday, a new initiative to help Ohioans who are looking for a job to have a better chance at finding work.
The new program brings together employers, nonprofits, educators, and training providers to help Ohioans reskill and restart their careers.
Ohio To Work will help someone who is out of work to identify a new career opportunity, train for it, and then be placed with an employer.
"We know it can be a challenge to find a job right now, but we also know employers are hiring in industries like healthcare, technology, and advanced manufacturing," DeWine said.
The first Ohio To Work initiative will be launched in Cleveland/Cuyahoga County. The current plan is to extend this to other areas of the state.
Currently, there are more than 30 employers signed on with the initiative.
For more information, click here.
DeWine expressed concern over what students are doing outside of the classroom.
Colleges and universities have gone to great lengths to limit spread among students, staff and faculty, he said, but it is critical that students continue to take preventative actions both on-campus and off-campus.
"Wear a mask, keep your distance, and be careful," he said.