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16 Percent Of COVID-19 Cases Are Healthcare Workers; Coronavirus Update, March 24, 2020

Updated: 8:52 a.m., Wedensday, March 25, 2020

The number of coronavirus deaths in Ohio climbed to a total of eight as of Tuesday afternoon, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton said, with 564 confirmed cases across the state.

One of the two newly reported deaths was in Cuyahoga County, which continues to be the most severely affected county in the state, with 167 known cases.

Acton also noted that, statewide, 16 percent – or 91 cases – are healthcare workers who have contracted the virus themselves.

The state’s primary focus remains on decreasing the spread of the virus and increasing the capacity for healthcare and emergency response, Gov. Mike DeWine said Tuesday, which includes securing as much personal protective equipment (PPE) as possible for healthcare workers and having enough beds ready before there is a surge in hospitalizations.

Ohio has about 3,600 ICU beds statewide, according to statistics shared by the governor’s office Tuesday.

“The bottom line that we’re learning now is it’s all about ICU bed capacity,” Acton said. “We’re trying to keep people that can be routinely cared for, even that need to be hospitalized, in lesser-care settings and turning our hospitals into basically expanded ICU capability... and our hospitals are hard at work doing that.”

As of Tuesday’s briefing, Ohio has 145 COVID-19-related hospitalizations, 62 of those in ICU. Of the hospitalized patients, 25 are from long-term care facilities, Acton said.

Ohio’s hospitals are operating at about 60 percent capacity overall, in part because of last week’s public health order putting a hold on elective surgeries, she said. Plans are already in the works to use hotels and college dormitories as makeshift healthcare facilities if necessary, Acton and DeWine said.

The first preference is to use buildings that already exist, rather than having to put up tent-style field hospitals as New York has been forced to do, he said.

“We are out looking for other facilities. Our first preference obviously is facilities that already exist, buildings that already exist," DeWine said.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ohio

DeWine kicked off the daily coronavirus update with a video featuring famous Ohioans – from former Ohio State University football coach and current Youngtown State University President Jim Tressel to Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams – encouraging people to stay home in compliance with the public health order, practice social distancing, wash their hands and stay busy while weathering the coronavirus pandemic.

The governor also attempted to make the case that he and President Donald Trump are on the same page with their desire to reopen the country and get people back to work as soon as possible.

“I think that the president and I are aligned. We want to get this over with as quickly as we can... the frustration that he has, I share that frustration,” DeWine said. “The truth is that protecting people and protecting the economy are not mutually exclusive. In fact, one depends upon the other. We save our economy by first saving lives. And we have to do it in that order.”

The economy won’t be able to bounce back until people feel safe and are ready to get back to work and back to normal, he said, “but we’ve got to do this and we’ve got to get through this.”

“I’d love to be rolling in two weeks, but we just have to see where we are,” he said.

The governor also said based on modeling and analysis from health department officials, he expects the worst of the pandemic to peak in Ohio around the first week of May, indicating the stay-at-home order that went into effect in the early morning hours on Tuesday could have to be extended beyond its initial April 6 end date.

During these trying times, ideastream is dedicated to keeping you, the Northeast Ohio community, informed by providing trusted, up-to-date information that you need to know, as it happens.

From special coverage of briefings by the president and governor to information about health resources and opportunities to ask questions of local and national health experts, ideastream is committed to providing you with all the information you need to know about COVID-19, as it happens. Visit www.ideastream.org/coronavirus for the latest.