DeWine Expands Telehealth Access To Counselors; Coronavirus Update, April 4, 2020
By Adora Namigadde, WOSU
Updated: 12:15 a.m., Sunday, April 5, 2020
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed an executive order to expand telehealth in the state on Saturday to help fight the spread of coronavirus.
The order will allow Ohioans to more easily access services with mental health workers including social workers, counselors and marriage counselors. Patients will be able to see such professionals without first having had an in-person consultation. He also waived telehealth training for these providers.
DeWine said during his daily press conference that he spent part of the day working on building capacity at hospitals. The state is increasing the number of hospital beds by cutting down on elective surgeries, having the Ohio National Guard add hospital space, and hospitals creating more rooms on their campuses. DeWine said he'll elaborate on making more hospital beds available next week.
As of Saturday, April 4 at 2 p.m., there are 3,739 cases and 102 deaths of or due to COVID-19.
The CDC issued guidance Friday regarding face masks in public. It endorsed cloth face masks as a measure to prevent contracting and spreading the coronavirus.
DeWine said he intends to wear a homemade cloth mask, made by his wife Fran, in public from now on, and he encouraged others to allow masks to become socially acceptable. The state added instructions to its coronavirus website on how to make cloth maks. But Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton warned the masks have their limitations.
“It isn’t going to make you bulletproof," said Acton. "A virus can get through any homemade mask."
Both DeWine and Acton said the masks are not a substitute for social distancing or the stay-at-home order.
Acton cautioned against using the N95 medical-grade masks that are already in short supply. She said those masks should be donated to local emergency management agencies, who will give them to medical professionals.
Battelle is sterilizing N95 masks for Ohio's hospitals free for a couple of weeks, so DeWine encouraged hospitals to bring their masks to be cleaned. That technology will allow masks to be reused up to 20 times.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said there is a link on the state’s COVID-19 website to help people gain access to hot spots for better internet access.
Statehouse News Bureau correspondent Jo Ingles contributed to this report.
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