State believes Southern Ohio has enough existing facilities to handle the COVID-19 surge

By Ivy Potter - [email protected]

COLUMBUS — Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton stated on Monday that there were 4,450 confirmed cases of COVOD-19 in Ohio. Data also showed 1,214 hospitalizations, 371 patients in Intensive Care Units, and 142 deaths based on limited testing

DeWine stated that the updated stay at home order was to go into effect on Monday at midnight, which would establish some changes for retail stores. Per the order, retail stores are required to limit the number of shoppers within stores at a time and do what they can to ensure workers and shoppers are safe. DeWine acknowledged businesses that were already regulating the number of shoppers and some that even established one-way shopping aisles to reduce contact traffic.

“There’s all kinds of imaginative things that stores can do, but we appreciate what they are doing,” said DeWine. “What we’re saying is that if someone is wearing a mask, it’s a good thing. I think it sends a signal for all of us to continue being careful.”

DeWine stated that wearing a mask does not substitute the need for social distancing, but can work as an extra precautionary measure.

In regard to hospital capacity, DeWine said plans are in place to double capacity.

“Big picture, of course, is what you are doing every day is buying us time. By staying home, by being very, very careful, you’re buying us time. You’re buying our hospital’s time, the folks who work in our hospital’s tome,” said DeWine. “Major hospitals and medical systems have put plans in place for expanding their capacity within their facilities or have collaborated on facilities. What we’re finding is many of the hospitals can do this within their facility. We have also been building a plan to expand healthcare at alternative sites, beyond what we traditionally think of as a medical care facility.”

DeWine stated medical professionals, government bodies and the National Guard, among others, have teamed up to scout buildings across the state, which could potentially house additional patients. Taking into consideration capacity, distance to existing facilities and other factors including safety conditions, DeWine announced that SeaGate Convention Centre in Lucas County, Case Western University Health Education Campus in Cuyahoga County, Dayton Convention Center, Covelli Convention Centre in the Mahoning Valley, Duke Energy Center in Hamilton County, and Greater Columbus Convention Centre in Franklin County have all been selected as places for expansion.

“The assessment of additional sites is going to continue as we look for additional space should that be needed,” said DeWine. “Healthcare regions in Southern and Southeastern Ohio have determined that the existing hospital facilities with additional equipment be able to handle the surge in patients without going to off-site location.”

DeWine stated a team derived from members of the public and private sector are going out every day to determine that hospitals have the necessary personal protection equipment and testing equipment.

“As we continue to move through the cris we are working to ensure our health workers have the personal protection (PPE) equipment they need,” said DeWine. “If we can find in it the marketplace we’re going to buy it. If we can find it, we’re buying it. If we can’t, we’re going to make it or repurpose it. As I’ve said before we are much much too reliant on foreign countries, that is something that we will have to change after this crisis is over. The efforts we are making now in Ohio to address this crisis will help us today and I believe will strengthen our manufacturing base in the years to come. Once we have our supplies we’re going to use technology and innovation to make our supplies last longer.”

DeWine said one prime example is Battelle’s santization process which will allow a mask to reused up to 20 times.

DeWine said more than 1,400 Ohio manufacturing companies have responded to the states request for assistance in producing personal protection equipment and stated the manufacturing alliance has reached out to these companies privately to see where they can fit into Ohio’s efforts.

“Our goal as we ramp up everyday is to protect our protectors. Men and women on the front lines who I hear from who are in hospitals and nursing homes, who are first responders who are out there risking their lives everyday I want to thank them, what we’re trying to donor protect you. Our efforts every single day are to protect you,” said DeWine.

DeWine stated that due to 50% medical staffing and at least seven confirmed cases of COVID-19 in inmates and three deaths, he has authorized the Ohio National Guard to enter into Elkton Federal Correctional Institution in Columbiana County.

“For every federal inmate at the hospital they need two federal guards standing watch. Some of these inmates are now at hospitals out in the community,” said DeWine.

DeWine stated that while the prison was not operated by the state it’s primarily staffing was that of Ohioans and their families are the ones that live in that community.

“These inmates gets sick and are transported to hospitals in that community. That why I have ordered the National Guard to enter and assist in that facility.” DeWine stated the assistance would be only temporary, seven to 10 days, until federal assistance can arrive. DeWine stated 26 men and women would be deployed to assist in the infirmary, a solely medical mission. “They’ll be there to assist with non-COVID cases as well as those displaying symptoms,” said DeWine.

DeWine stated they would each be equipped with N95 respirator masks and will stand ready to assist transport inmates to medical facilities in the event of a surge.

By Ivy Potter

[email protected]

Reach: Ivy Potter(740) 353-3101 Extension 1932

© 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

Reach: Ivy Potter(740) 353-3101 Extension 1932

© 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved