COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton, and Lt. Governor Jon Husted held their daily update on the spread of COVID-19 in the state at 2pm, Friday.
As of Friday, there are 3,312 confirmed cases in the state, 895 leading to hospitalization. A total of 91 deaths have been reported.
The latest models project a mid-April-to-late-May peak for coronavirus cases in Ohio. Those models are from Ohio State University, but Cleveland Clinic models show the peak will be between mid-May and mid-June.
During his interview with MSNBC on Friday, Cleveland Clinic CEO Dr. Tom Mihaljevic offered new insight into the coronavirus pandemic’s curve and its peak.
“Our modeling predictions are telling us that if we are able to flatten the curve, to some extent, we are expecting the peak of this disease, at least here in our home state of Ohio, to occur sometime between mid-May and mid-June, with a gradual decline in the number of cases toward mid-June to late July. This is the best-case scenario.”
During Friday’s news conference, DeWine addressed the shortage of testing in the state.
“We need more testing, and we need more results quicker,” said DeWine.
He announced that the Ohio State University and the Ohio Department of Health have teamed up to produce the items needed for tests (swabs, tubes to put swab in and liquid inside the test tube) here in Ohio.
“For the hospitals around the state that are lacking these, help is on the way,” said DeWine.
DeWine also touched on the concern of COVID-19 within state prisons, and steps that were being taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
DeWine announced he would be sending letters to judges around the state, on 38 prisoners that might be let out early. DeWine stressed these were not violent offenders, or sex offenders, but prisoners who could be at risk due to the spread of the coronavirus, including pregnant women and those who are within 60 days of release and are 60 years or older.
“What we’re doing is trying to be very careful, very respectful of the local courts, very respectful of the local victims, very respectful of public safety,” said Governor DeWine.
When asked about it later, DeWine stated that the conditions on any release would be set by a judge.
“We will continue to look frankly at other individuals we’re not going to release anyone who’s a sex offender, we’re not going to release anyone who’s a murderer, not going to release a long list of different crimes,” said Governor DeWine.
DeWine gave the floor to Major General John Harris, Adjutant General of the Ohio National Guard, who has been tasked with coordinating efforts to increase hospital capacity.
General Harris has been working with the state and the Ohio Department of Health to double Ohio’s capacity by the time the COVID-19 surge hits.
“We’re dialed in with a laser focus on this build out to make sure that when we hit the peak of infections here in Ohio for the COVID-19 cases that we give the frontline warriors, those healthcare providers the best chance possible to insure that no patient who needs healthcare goes without the appropriate level of healthcare” Harris said.
After talking about the latest numbers of COVID-19 cases in the state, Dr. Amy Acton addressed the request for more information on the ODH website, especially in regards to zip code data. She said zip code data does doesn’t always tell the whole story.
“A hot spot might not be a hot spot, but a reflection of testing in a given area,” said Acton. “Using these case numbers doesn’t tell who’s getting better.”
Lt. Governor Husted described a small business virtual town hall he was a part of Friday, and how many have commented on how easy it has been to get a small business loan thanks to the CARE act passed by the U.S. Congress. However, he also emphasized the difficulties businesses are facing.
“The coronavirus is not just a health virus, it is an economic virus on us all,” said Husted.
Husted also reminded people that election day in Ohio is set for April 28, and encouraged people to visit voteohio.gov and get an absentee ballot.
DeWine took a moment at the start of the news conference to thank teachers and educators throughout the state. He shared the creation of a remote resource learning guide which has information on best practices being utilized. That guide is available at coronavirus.ohio.gov.
The big announcement from DeWine, Thursday, was that he would be extending Ohio’s Stay at Home order until at least May 1.
“Everything about this lags about a couple weeks behind, and you have to make moves early,” said Dr. Acton prior to signing the order during Thursday’s news conference. “This order I’m signing is to think about you and all the sacrifices you’re making.”
Acton said that people should expect a slow return to normal daily life when numbers begin dropping. She said there are five areas where there needs to be a stabilization before they begin lifting orders:
- Modeling, to get numbers for more accuracy
- Hospitals stabilized
- Robust contact tracing
- Lower numbers that are stabilized