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DeWine Names New Ohio Health Director, Chief Medical Officer

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine named Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff (left) as chief medical officer and Stephanie McCloud (right) as ODH director on Thursday. [ideastream via Ohio Health and Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation]
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine named Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff (left) as chief medical officer and Stephanie McCloud (right) as ODH director on Thursday. [ideastream via Ohio Health and Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation]

Updated: 5:55 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020

Gov. Mike DeWine started his regular coronavirus press conference with a somber tone, laying out the latest, record-setting coronavirus levels across Ohio before pivoting to name a slate of new personnel at the Ohio Department of Health.

Stephanie McCloud is the new director of the Ohio Department of Health (ODH). McCloud currently leads the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. DeWine also named Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff as ODH’s chief medical officer.

“Director McCloud understands how state government operates, and she knows how to get things done. She's a collaborator. She has the management and administrative expertise we need in these challenging times,” DeWine said. “She has the experience necessary to lead the department as it carries out its vitally important health functions, while at the same time battling this pandemic.”

Vanderhoff currently serves as chief medical officer for Ohio Health.

“We’re delighted he has accepted this position,” DeWine said. “[Vanderhoff] has years of real life experiences, leading large teams and successfully dealing with important health care issues here in Ohio,” said DeWine. “He prepared Ohio Health to deal with the threat of Ebola and the H1N1 flu pandemic. He's grappled with the pressing health care issues affecting the entire state from rural Appalachia to metropolitan Ohio.”

Lance Himes, who has been serving as interim health director since the departure of Dr. Amy Acton in June, will remain with ODH as a senior deputy and eventually lead vaccination efforts, working with local health departments. Kathleen Madden, currently assistant director at the Ohio Office of Budget and Management, will become chief of staff at the Ohio Department of Health.

The new agency roles were announced after DeWine detailed what he referred to as “shocking” COVID-19 numbers for the state.


Daily New Confirmed & Probable COVID-19 Cases In Ohio

New cases reached an all-time high Thursday, he said, at 4,961. Compared to the roughly 1,000 just four weeks ago, DeWine said it was an increase of “about five-fold.” Thursday marked the third day in a row new cases exceeded 4,000.

“We continue to see increases in COVID-19 patients hospitalized, in the ICU, and on ventilators,” he said. “There are 2,075 current patients today which is a 55 percent increase in hospitalized patients compared to two weeks ago. There are 541 people in ICU.” 

The governor also reported 33 new COVID-19 deaths Thursday. To date, 5,461 Ohioans have died from the coronavirus.

Every county in the state has high incidence of the coronavirus by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention standards as of Thursday afternoon, the governor said.

"We're seeing significant community spread in every county. There's a lot of spread in households. So when one person gets the virus, so [do] the rest of the people who live in the home. Schools are continuing to do a great job. Social gatherings, including weddings and funerals and parties in people's homes, is really where we're seeing much of the spread,” DeWine said.

A record 56 Ohio counties, comprising 86 percent of the state’s population, are now on red alert, he said, compared to the record of 43 counties in red alert set last week.

“It is everywhere,” DeWine said. “We can’t hide from it, we can’t run from it, we’ve gotta face it and we have to deal with it.”

Though he has been publicly very clear that he does not want to return to the lockdown restrictions from the spring, DeWine indicated he could impose more state orders.

"If we want to continue to try to live through this pandemic and live with this virus for the next few months, we've got to be wearing masks and be more careful, but I will have more things coming shortly," he said.

DeWine also said it's possible he may have another briefing before Tuesday's regularly scheduled one.

Jenny Hamel is the host of the “Sound of Ideas.”