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Ohio COVID-19 Surge Strains Healthcare Infrastructure And Workers: Reporters Roundtable

A look at the topics for the Reporters Roundtable for November 20, 2020.
A look at the topics for the Reporters Roundtable for November 20, 2020.

COVID-19 is spreading rapidly across the state further taxing an already stretched healthcare system.

For the first time, a county reached the highest public health advisory level--purple on the state's color coded system.  Franklin County, home of Columbus and Ohio's largest county, became the first to reach that distinction but it's unlikely to be the last. The state placed three other counties on the "watch" list for purple: Lake, Lorain and Montgomery counties.

Statewide, 72 counties now register as "red" or the second highest advisory level, including Cuyahoga.

The state bases the color-coded advisories on a number of factors including the spread of the virus and the impact on a county's healthcare facilities.

Normally the state releases its daily case county every afternoon.  But, yesterday's number -- 7,787-- came with an asterisk due to 12,000 tests that have not yet been verified.

Meanwhile, a number of cities and counties, Cleveland and Cuyahoga County included, have issues stay-at-home advisories and Ohio is now under a statewide curfew, though Governor DeWine reiterated yesterday the purpose is to convince Ohioans to take action to stem the spread of the virus, not for police to pull people over for being out past curfew.

The messaging from the beginning of this pandemic was to "flatten the curve" in an effort to prevent a spike in demand for care that hospitals and healthcare workers could not meet. We succeeded in the first and second wave but we are getting into uncharted territory in capacity and the number of healthcare workers sidelined with COVID-19.  Yesterday, according to the governor, hospitalizations across the state were 3,829 with 943 patients in ICU.

Another difference between those early waves and now is that the governor is often at odds with members of his own party over the actions taken to control the virus.

A week ago, Governor DeWine indicated he may be forced to shutdown bars, restaurants and gyms if the current spike in COVID-19 cases did not improve.

By all accounts the virus continues to spread quickly statewide but DeWine did not shut down businesses.

Instead, he put into effect a 10pm to 5 am curfew with exceptions for school and work. John Barker, President and CEO of the Ohio Restaurant Association discusses how the industry is navigating the pandemic.

Karen Kasler, Statehouse News Bureau Chief, Ohio Public Radio/TV

Lisa Ryan, Health Reporter, Producer, Ideastream

Taylor Haggerty, News Reporter, Ideastream

John Barker, President & CEO, Ohio Restaurant Association