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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

Hospitals to Implement Restrictions on Procedures to Save Equipment, Prevent COVID-19 Spread

a photo of amy acton
Ohio Health Department Director Amy Acton at the latest briefing on COVID-19. There are 67 confirmed cases in the state as of 2 p.m. March 17.

The state of Ohio is issuing an order that will make hospitals postpone elective surgeries to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, save protective equipment for health care workers and keep beds open. 

Gov. Mike DeWine announced Tuesday hospitals will only perform surgeries that fall into these four categories:

  • Life saving
  • Preserves limbs or organs
  • Prevents progression of disease
  • Prevents worsening symptoms

Patients will be receiving a call from their hospitals as to whether their procedure has been canceled. 


Dr. Amy Acton, the director of the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), and other health officials said the measures will keep resources open for health care workers to treat those affected by COVID-19.


“Conservation in this entire situation is paramount," said Tamara McBride, the chief of health prepardness at ODH.


In the past, Acton has talked about the storage of protective equipment for health care workers in the U.S. She asked facilities Monday to donate any equipment that's not being used.


Acton said people have already donated and is now urging schools to give any protective equipment, such as latex gloves, they may have. Items can be taken to the local emergency management agency.  


Mike Abrams, the CEO of the Ohio Hospitals Association, said hospitals are prepared across the state to handle a spike in cases if it happens. 


"We can safely surge another 25% without doing anything extraordinnary at all," Abrams said.


Hospitals are partnering with other facilities to treat noninfectious patients in order to free up space and resources in hospitals for those affected by COVID-19.


Abrams said some examples are turning an empty wing of a nursing home or a floor of a hotel into a treatment center for those noninfectious patients. The main wing of those buildings and residents would not be affected.

State officials have also discussed opening recently closed hospitals to help house and treat many individuals.

“When this hits hard, we are ready for it," DeWine said.


As of Tuesday, there are 67 confirmed cases in the state. The first case was confirmed about a week ago. 



Acton said the state has received $15 million from the federal government to help treat patients with COVID-19 and prepare hospitals for more cases. Around $10 million will be disbursed to local health departments across the state for testing, treatment and other resources they may need. 
The Ohio State Dental Board has also asked dentists to postpone routine hygiene appointments and non-emergency procedures. 
Along with the order for hospitals, the state also plans to follow President Donald Trump's call to limit mass gatherings to 10 people. 
The order for mass gatherings has changed twice. Last week, it was no more than 100 people. Then the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made a warning to limit it to 50. 
Trump referred to a study done by Imperial College London, which showed if Americans don't take precautionary measures — like maintaining six feet of space between people and working from home — more than 2 million people could die. The study explained that if those precautionary measures are taken, that death toll could be cut in half. 
DeWine also said he expects to make an order soon regarding daycares in the state.
In previous press conferences, he has warned families to take their children out of daycares. Acton said although many children aren't getting sick from the disease — and they could — they are carriers and can spread it to high-risk populations like the elderly or people with pre-existing conditions. 
"This is no ordinary time in Ohio. This is no ordinary time in the United States," DeWine said. 
Many changes have been made in the state to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Here's what has happened over the last few weeks:

  • Ohio has postponed its primaries. Not even 12 hours before polls were supposed to open, Dr. Amy Acton, the director of the Ohio Department of Health issued a health emergency to shut down polling locations. The new proposed voting date is June 2 but the details still have to be worked out by the courts and/or the state legislature. Absentee ballots would be allowed until then. For more information on what happened, click here. To get an absentee ballot, click here.
  • The state has shut down more facilities, including gyms, fitness centers, recreation facilities, theaters, indoor water parks and indoor trampoline parks. 
  • University of Akron has decided to keep classes online for the rest of the semester. The school has also asked students toleave the residence halls by 11 p.m. Wednesday. 
  • Kent State employeehas tested negative for COVID-19 after coming into contact with a patient who has the disease. Students have been ordered to leave the residence halls by the end of the week and are eligible for a refund. The university has also announced it will start limiting operations at all eight campuses Monday afternoon. 
  • Bars and restaurants closed down Sunday night temporarily to prevent large gatherings. DeWine said he came to the decision after he received multiple complaints about crowds over the weekend. Carry-out and delivery options are still available. 
  • Ohio's unemployment law will be extended to help those who are put out of work because of the pandemic. For more details, click here
  • The state is implementing a COVID-19 treatment plan for individuals with an addiction or mental health issues. This includes more telehealth services that will allow patients to video chat with professionals or call a landline. The plan will also implement a service that will allow people to get their medications without having to physically go to a pharmacy. Pharmacies are making sure they have adequate supplies of medications
  • The Cleveland Clinic is officially offering drive-thru coronavirus testingwith a doctor's order. It's in partnership with University Hospitals, which is doing the same. The testing location is in University Circle.
  • Summit Countyconfirmed its first case of COVID-19 Friday. A woman in her 50s is a case of community spread, which means she didn't travel or have direct contact with other COVID-19 patients. The county and the city of Akron have declared public health emergencies. All community centers in Akron closed Monday.  
  • President Donald Trump declared a national emergency Friday under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. This allows the White House to get direct aid quickly from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for disasters and health crises. Trump has also been tested for COVID-19 and doesn't have it.  
  • Lawmakers plan to send a letter to Trump with 17 requests for state relief, such as having access to more protective equipment for health care workers. 
  • DeWine issued an order that prohibits visitors in jails. The state also isn't allowing visitors in nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and psychiatric facilities. 
  • Ohio K-12 schools shut down Monday afternoon for three weeks. DeWine said he will help schools with whatever they need, but it's up to administrators to figure out how to determine details of educating students while they're at home and when they return. 
  • Kent State University, Oberlin College and Ohio State University have canceled in-person classes for the rest of the semester. Classes will be online. Large gatherings such as graduation will be reevaluated at a later date. Many colleges have suspended in-person classes until mid-April. 
  • Ohio has temporarily banned mass gatherings of 100 or more people together in close promiximity in a certain place. This includes parades, fairs, theaters and more. 
  • Many events have been canceled across the state. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame postponed its induction ceremony, Vice President Mike Pence is no longer visiting Summit County and the Mid-American Conference (MAC) tournament canceled the restof its games, along with many other conferences like NCAA. 

For all the latest information on the coronavirus outbreak, click here