COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton, and Lt. Governor Jon Husted held a 2pm news briefing to provide an update on the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
As of Friday, there are cases 5,878 cases of the coronavirus reported leading to 1,755 hospitalizations and 231 deaths. There are 548 ICU admissions.
To start Friday’s news conference, Gov. DeWine explained how there will be new reporting on the date of the spread of COVID-19 in the state, based on the CDC’s guidelines.
Before this change, the guidance only allowed doctors to count COVID-19 cases that had been confirmed by a laboratory test. Now, the new guidance will include cases that meet the following criteria:
- A person will be counted if a quick test determines the presence of COVID-19 antibodies in the blood
- A person will be counted if there is clinical evidence and epidemiological evidence of the presence of COVID-19 when there is no other likely diagnosis, even if there’s no lab test
Prior to the new guidelines there were 5,836 confirmed cases in Ohio Friday and 42 probable cases, while deaths were at 227, and four probable deaths.
Dr. Amy Action added counting COVID-19 cases has been a continuing evolution.
“Case definitions by the CDC, which guide how states count cases, has been evolving since this disease began,” Dr. Action said. “It began very early on with a case being called someone who traveled from the Wuhan province and then it expanded gradually to all of China and then it expanded to additional countries and then it expanded to the United States.”
She echoed DeWine’s sentiment about the quick test saying it will help diagnose people with the disease and people who have recovered from the disease.
DeWine also talked to changes to Medicaid that aims to allow recipients to better protect themselves against the COVID-19 coronavirus.
DeWine said during his briefing that the changes will reduce “barriers to care.”
“Our goal in Ohio is to keep as many people as healthy as possible and to ensure those who get sick with COVID-19 that they get the treatment that they need,” he said.
Lt. Governor Jon Husted announced Friday he got a call from STERIS, a company based in Mentor, Ohio, which is a provider of infection prevention. Husted said STERIS told him they received FDA approval for small-scale N-95 mask decontamination. Ohio’s hospitals continue to struggle with a lack of PPE.
“The bottom line is it’s not just about the beds in the hospital, right now we don’t have gear for routine surgeries,” Dr. Acton said. “We have a shortage of medicines for using with ventilators.”
Dr. Amy Acton laid out the difference between essential and non-essential surgeries Friday during the briefing.
“We’ve limited the non-essential surgeries in Ohio, both to free up capacity in our hospitals, but also because we have a severe shortage of the protective gear, so we’re trying to use that for the surgeries that have to occur,” Acton said.
Acton said essential surgeries have to meet four criteria, that you can read about here: Acton explains difference between essential and non-essential surgeries
When asked about the spread of COVID-19 in Ohio’s prisons DeWine said the state has taken more measures to ensure prisoners and those who work in prisons are as safe as possible during the pandemic.
“Whenever you have a congregate setting, we’re very, very worried about that,” DeWine said. “Once the virus gets in any kind of congregate setting, it’s very, very dangerous.”
As a result, DeWine said they have ramped up efforts to track the virus inside prison populations.
Dr. Acton also addressed just how contagious the COVID-19 coronavirus can be.
She explained it using something called R0, or “R-naught,” which is a clinical term that calculates the spread rate of a disease.
The initial R0 for COVID-19 was 2.3.
The models this week show Ohio is flattening the curve but Governor DeWine said no one should doubt how truly deadly this virus is.
“Despite the fact that when we go outside, today looks like just another spring day, we have your fellow Ohioans who are dying today,” DeWine said. “You have fellow Ohioans who are in intensive care, you have fellow Ohioans who are unable to breathe, so this is deadly.”