DeWine
DeWine
COLUMBUS — Governor Mike DeWine had some good news to share on Friday during his daily press conference.

“Today I want to talk about two very essential components that help build the foundation for our ability to carefully begin to re-open Ohio: testing capacity and contact tracing,” he said. “Ohio like other parts of the country has experienced some shortage in testing. We have not been able to have the robust testing like we wanted.”

The reasons include:

1. Laboratory not enough reagent or access to reagent

“Former Ohio governors Dick Celeste and Governor Bob Taft working with the team this week had a major breakthrough working with Thermo Fisher that will substantially expand testing capacity in Ohio,” DeWine explained. “After their work, I talked directly with Thermo Fisher CEO Marc Casper, and we now have an agreement with them. This is an exciting, new partnership, and we look forward to working with the Thermo Fisher team and its 1,500 employees working in Ohio.”

2. Not enough swabs

“As a result of collaborative efforts through the Ohio Manufacturing Alliance to Fight COVID19, Roe Dental Lab in Cleveland will manufacture up to 1 million swabs to support our testing efforts,” DeWine announced. “Roe Dental Lab usually produces dental restorations, such as crowns, dentures, and dental surgical guides. The Ohio Manufacturing Alliance helped them secure the specifications to manufacture swabs from Formlabs, a 3D printing company in Toledo.”

DeWine said beginning Wednesday, testing capability will be at least 7,200 tests per day, and that number will go to 15,000 by May 6; 18,800 by May 13; and 22,000 by May 27.

“This will dramatically increase the ability to test, particularly in priority areas. For example: there will be a greater ability test in nursing homes and see where there are problems; other hot spots can be identified and go in more aggressively. We can focus on congregate living settings, such as homeless shelters, treatment centers, developmental disability homes; and we will be better able to make sure food/grocery workers and employees in essential manufacturing facilities are healthy and not spreading the disease,” he said.

More testing will also aid in contact exposure tracing.

“Contact exposure tracing is one of the strongest weapons we help keep our families, our friends, and ourselves healthy – all done in a voluntary way, where we can take some control back over this disease. This is an aggressive strategy because Ohioans are not going to let this thing dominate our lives,” DeWine said. “Ohioans are fighters. And we now have the ability to really go on the offense against this enemy. That means we are going to track it down. We are going to isolate it. And then, we are going to kill it.”

DeWine shared some additional good news.

Foster care

Over the next three months, a little over 200 youth will turn 18 and “age out” of foster care.

“Today, I am announcing that the state will cover the costs for all of these youth to stay in care until this pandemic ends,” DeWine said. “For many of these young people, their future looks uncertain because of COVID19, whether their plan was to start a career or pursue higher education. This program will provide them with a safety net during these difficult times.

“We’re also making this option available for the young people in our Bridges program, which is our foster care to age 21 program. Our young people turning 21 over the next few months can stay in Bridges to help them maintain their housing, jobs and education.”

WIC program

“I also want to recognize our Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) workers and our incredible home visitors. These folks, collectively, are helping young families stay fed, healthy, and on track,” DeWine said. “Our WIC professionals are showing up every day to provide mothers and children in need with food, baby formula, counseling, and referrals to programs, such as home visiting.”

Lt. Gov. John Husted encouraged those who had not returned their mail-in ballots to do so.

“There are 1.7 million Ohioans who’ve requested a ballot to vote by mail, but under 1 million have voted. There is still time to request your ballot but do it fast. You have until Monday to have it postmarked. Or you can drop it off at your board of elections dropbox,” Husted said.

During Thursday’s regular COVID-19 update, Mark Weir, Ph.D., an assistant professor of Environmental Health at The Ohio State University, discussed how health risks change as changes are made to the environment.

Dr. Weir explained that cough or sneeze droplets containing the virus spread through contact with others or contact with contaminated surfaces. He explained that minimizing the spread of the disease as Ohio begins the long process of reopening depends on personal and environmental controls. Personal precautions include interrupting the infection process by practicing good hand hygiene and wearing masks.

Employers must take precautions by disinfecting surfaces often and maintain distance between individuals. Finally, facility and building management can help interrupt the infection process by managing airflow and air filters.

“Since COVID-19 can live up to 72 hours on plastics and stainless steel, it will take a combination of efforts from all of us to interrupt the disease process,” said Dr. Weir.

Video of Dr. Weir’s full presentation can be found on the Ohio Channel’s YouTube page.

On Wednesday, Dr. Acton announced an order that directs healthcare providers in hospitals and outpatient surgery centers to reassess procedures and surgeries that were postponed.

On March 17, Dr. Acton issued an order postponing elective surgeries to conserve critical personal protective equipment (PPE) and to open bed space needed to care for COVID-19 patients.

“Because of Ohio’s hard work to flatten the curve and because of our health care system’s efforts to come together to meet community needs as a team, we have prevented the massive spike of cases that we feared,” said Governor DeWine. “We must now begin the gradual, multi-phased process of reopening, and my first concern is the patients who have had procedures and surgeries delayed.”

The new order directs healthcare professionals to review any postponed procedures or surgeries with their patients. Doctors and patients should consider the current health situations and make a joint decision about whether or not to proceed. New or other chronic conditions that may have a significant impact on a patient’s quality of life should also be evaluated.

The order also requires that patients be informed of the risk of contracting COVID-19 and the impact during the post-operative recovery process.

“Resuming elective surgeries and procedures will take clinical judgment, and we will rely on our healthcare providers to make responsible decisions as we move forward,” said Governor DeWine. “Patients must have the information necessary to make informed decisions and must pay greater attention to the effectiveness of non-surgical options.”

MENTAL HEALTH CARELINE:

The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (MHAS) announced the launch of a new mental health COVID CareLine for Ohioans.

Trained staff will be available to provide emotional assistance to anyone struggling with mental health concerns due to the ongoing stress of the pandemic.

The number to call is 1-800-720-9616. All calls will be confidential.

Current Ohio data:

There are 15,169 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 690 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 3,053 people have been hospitalized, including 920 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov.

Video of today’s full update, including versions with foreign language closed captioning, can be viewed on the Ohio Channel’s YouTube page.

For more information on Ohio’s response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.