Gov. Mike DeWine Tracking Ohio's Ventilators, Ramping Up Supply Chain; Coronavirus Update, March 31, 2020

Updated: 10:07 a.m., Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Ohio is taking an inventory of available ventilators in the state as the death toll from the coronavirus rose to 55, officials announced Tuesday afternoon.

The Ohio Department of Health will require companies up and down the supply chain to report the number of ventilators in their possession each week, Gov. Mike DeWine said.

The number of total confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state rose to 2,199, with 585 people hospitalized, including 198 admitted to intensive care units. One-fifth of the people who have tested positve so far in Ohio are healthcare workers.

The Ohio National Guard is working with hospital systems in eight regions of the state to increase capacity and optimize personal protection equipment for medical staff. DeWine said Tuesday he expects to release more details on the capacity build-up plans soon.

 

Health Director Dr. Amy Acton encouraged Ohioans to continue keeping their distance from others while in public and to be even more thoughtful about essential trips to places like the grocery store or pharmacy.

"You can do it, we need you to be able to do that. But double up. Think about your being out there strategically. Because it's very, very important right now that we minimize our exposure to others," Acton said.

Ohio’s stay-at-home order expires April 6. While DeWine did not announce the extension of that order Tuesday, he said a decision on the matter would be coming soon.

“Everything you’ve heard me say, the lieutenant governor say, and everything you’ve heard Dr. Acton say, would indicate that we cannot let this monster up,” DeWine said. “We have to keep battling it. We can’t walk away or it’s going to rear up, and it’s going to kill more Ohioans.”

So far, 29,191 Ohioans have been tested for COVID-19, according to the latest numbers reported to the state. The state’s lab can perform about 280 tests a day and turn them around in eight hours, Acton said. Other hospitals are supplementing that capacity, she said.

“We are still dealing with a scarcity of testing, so saving that testing for the very sickest and most at risk,” she said. “That means a lot of us—most of us, actually—are working with our doctors, hearing that clinically we sound like we have a case and staying home. And we can’t report to you all on those numbers, but know it’s a significant amount from what we’re hearing on the front lines.”

As new forms of testing become available, Acton said the state plans to expand its efforts to trace contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases. 

DeWine’s administration is also preventing local water systems from shutting off service for nonpayment during the pandemic. Customers who already have lost service must call to have their water restored, he said.

“This will ensure that as many people as possible have safe water during this state of emergency,” DeWine said.

Meanwhile, the state is working to expand capacity on the unemployment insurance website to handle the surge in new claims, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said. The jobless claim call center is adding 180 employees, he said.

“For all of you who have had challenges, I want you to know your voices are being heard, and they’re being acted upon,” Husted said.

State job creation entity JobsOhio is making a $2 million low-interest loan to Appalachian Growth Capital, which helps finance small businesses in southeast Ohio, DeWine said.

The state prison system placed Marion Correctional Institution under quarantine this week after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19. The state is considering on a case-by-case basis whether prisoners with health problems and nonviolent records are released, DeWine said.

Statehouse News Bureau's Andy Chow contributed to this report.

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