Governor Mike DeWine and Dr. Amy Acton covered a whole lot of COVID-19 questions today. Should inmates be released to protect their health? Do we all need to wear masks? Can I get my water turned back on? We’ve got all of the important answers in today’s COVID-19 briefing.
COVID-19 by the Numbers
- Cases 2,199
- Healthcare Workers – 429
- Hospitalizations – 585
- ICU admissions -198
- Deaths -55
- Age Range – less than 1 to 99
- Counties – 71
- Total tested – 29, 191
Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton cautioned that testing is still limited and said, “We are working on making it faster.”
Dr. Acton said currently, ODH could test do up to 280 tests per day with an 8-hour turnaround. “We are saving that testing for the sickest and most at risk.”
Dr. Acton said it was impossible to know how many infected people are simply self-isolating and staying at home. She also said it was no time for blaming and finger-pointing. “You have to fight the war with what you have.” She called the outbreak ‘a perfect storm.’ She added, “I feel Ohio has made the decisive moves it made at the right time.”
Keep Staying Home
While Governor DeWine refused to say he would extend the stay-at-home order, he did say, “I think I’ve been giving strong signals. We can’t let this monster up.”
Dr. Acton gave an example that a person who didn’t practice self-isolation could infect 405 people in just 30 days, where a person who chose to stay home might only infect 15.
“I’m gonna ask you to double down on that,” she said. “We’ve bought precious time. Think about every trip you make to the store. Every time you go out to get medicine. It’s important that we minimize our exposure to others without ordering it.”
Governor DeWine said the state would be keeping an inventory of ventilators and other breathing devices like C-pap and bi-pap machines.
Manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and medical facilities will be required to make a weekly report of their inventories of these machines and associated supplies. The exceptions will be home users and those devices in transport out of the state. Reports will be due each Wednesday by 5 pm. Hospitals will continue to report their inventory through the Ohio Hospital Association.
DeWine also said the state is working to both purchase additional ventilators and to have Ohio manufacturers ramp up production.
Better Tests Coming
Governor DeWine said faster COVD-19 tests are on the way as the result of a joint effort by Battelle and Ohio State University. They should be able to process 1,000 tests per day.
“This more rabid diagnostic process will make a huge difference,” the Governor said. “What you’re seeing is more and more technology is coming online. Another reason why we must slow down the spread, to allow this technology to come online.”
“It’s Not Enough”
Lt. Governor Jon Husted said that while he know the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services is working hard to handle the large number of unemployment claims, he’s made it clear that more needs to be done. “It’s not enough. We’ve got to do more.”
The Lt. Governor said the state was working to build capacity for taking phone calls and also retraining some BWC workers to handle the increased call load. “They have handled more people in the past two weeks than we typically have during the past two years.”
No Water Shut Offs
Municipalities have been instructed not to shut off anyone’s water for non-payment. They have also been instructed to water back on for anyone who has been shut off since the first of the year.
You’ll have to call to have the water turned on. There’s no fee to resume water service but you will be expected to eventually pay your back balance and your current bill when the crisis is over.
Special Help for Southeast Ohio
Special economic help is on the way for small businesses in Southeastern Ohio. Jobs Ohio will provide a $2 million loan to Appalachian Growth Capital. The initiative will help 32 counties in Eastern and Southern Ohio provide long-term low-interest loans to small businesses.
The Governor said the goal is to help businesses stay afloat and create sustainable growth.
Some Inmates May Be Released Early
The Governor said he’s not considering a large-scale release of inmates from Ohio prisons to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposures. He did say that he is considering reviewing the matter on a case-by-case basis. It is a possibility that some non-violent offenders who are nearing the end of their sentences and fall into high-risk categories could be released. “We’re not going to turn loose sex offenders.”
He said there was no announcement to make today.
Wear a Homemade Mask?
Dr. Acton said wearing a homemade cloth mask could be a good idea for everyone to prevent the spread of COVID-19. “I’ve been saying all along, assume you have it. Masks can help in not spewing stuff out into the air.”
She said it’s customary in many countries to wear a mask when you’re sick. “If you have a cold, it’s considered polite to wear them.”
She said if you do have homemade masks at home, keep one for every member of your family and donate the rest to nursing homes.