Ohio Bracing For Surge In COVID-19 Cases, Speeding Testing And Making PPE Manufacturing Requests; Coronavirus Update, April 1, 2020

Updated: 4:16 p.m., Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Ohio is ordering medical providers to send coronavirus test samples to hospitals with spare testing capacity, rather than to slower-moving private labs, Gov. Mike DeWine said Wednesday.

The Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth Medical Center, University Hospitals and The Ohio State University can turn around COVID-19 test results more quickly, he said.

DeWine said it was “unacceptable” for labs to take as long as six days to turn around test results.

“It’s unacceptable to the patient, it’s unacceptable for the rest of us,” DeWine said. “Because knowing when someone tests positive or doesn’t test positive is information that we very, very desperately need.”

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ohio rose to 2,547 as of Wednesday afternoon, with 65 deaths and 670 hospitalizations. A total of 222 patients have been admitted to intensive care units.

The Ohio Department of Health will continue to analyze tests for critical patients and hospital workers showing COVID-19 symptoms, DeWine said. The state may have the capacity for rapid testing as soon as next week, he said.

 

State and medical leaders are working to expand hospital capacity, anticipating a major wave of new COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks, DeWine said.

“What we’re seeing in New York [City] is what we work every single every day to avoid here in the state of Ohio,” DeWine said, “when this wave finally does really hit us.”

DeWine is also asking manufacturers to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical workers and first responders. Companies able to make PPE or components for protective gear can sign up at repurposingproject.com, he said.

To help small businesses, the governor signed an executive order Wednesday asking lenders and landlords to suspend rent and mortgage collections from commercial tenants for 90 days.

The state is also working with certain grocers to allow those who receive food assistance to order online and pick up groceries outside the store, DeWine said.

State officials expect the number of COVID-19 cases to hit a peak in May. The number of cases likely will decline gradually after that, Health Director Dr. Amy Acton said.

Action and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted have convened a task force that includes data scientists, health economists and sociologists to plan for Ohio’s eventual pandemic recovery, she said.

But with no treatment or vaccine for COVID-19, Acton said, it will take time to return to normalcy.

“This will not be a switch that you flip and life goes back to normal,” she said.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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