Coronavirus Pandemic: Stay-at-home order will be extended tomorrow as RestartOhio begins

Coronavirus Pandemic: What you need to know, Thursday

Gov. Mike DeWine announced the stay-at-home order will be extended past May 1, with the exception that some retailers will begin to reopen in mid-May as part of RestartOhio.

Worries about whether there will be enough personal protection equipment (PPE) for everyone continue to bubble under the surface of the state’s RestartOhio plan, phase one of which is to begin Friday.

Gov. Mike DeWine held a 2 p.m. press conference.

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The following announcements were made:

  • MORE PPE DELIVERIES: 1.1 million pieces of PPE have been sent to the Ohio prison system over the last few weeks. That includes: 108,000 N-95 masks, 256,000 gloves, 684,000 procedure masks, 10,000 provider gowns and 100,000 cloth masks. The state’s goal is to keep a 90-day supply of the most critical equipment, DeWine said.
  • PRISONS PANDEMIC PLAN: Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections Director Annette Chambers said the state created a pandemic plan in 2009 and that Ohio was the second prison system in the nation to stop accepting visitors.
  • TESTING AT PRISONS: Ohio was the first state to do mass testing at prisons. The state has performed mass testing at three of its facilities.
  • MORE TESTING CAPACITY: Ohio is hoping to start fairly soon testing more of the general public for coronavirus, DeWine said.

Public Health -- Dayton & Montgomery County held a news briefing Thursday afternoon.

Here are the highlights:

  • CONTACT TRACING: The ability to track cases (contact tracing) will become important because as the state reopens and testing capacity increases, there will be more cases reported, Health Commissioner Jeff Cooper said. There have been an average of 43,000 tests weekly for the eight county area. That number is expected to grow to 133,000 weekly in May. Everyone needs to understand there will be an increase in the number of cases in Montgomery County because of an increase in testing capacity, Cooper said.
  • FACE COVERINGS: Employees have to understand they will be required to wear face coverings. PHDMC cannot enforce the order, so employers must step up and make sure employees are wearing face coverings -- except for the exceptions spelled out by the DeWine administration, Cooper said. He is asking residents to remember that face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing according to the state’s protocol.
  • WATER RESTORATION: Guidance is on the phdmc.org website for businesses to deal with water quality issues since they were shut down because of the essential/non-essential business order, Cooper said.
  • GRADUATIONS: Cooper is asking school districts and residents to comply with the spirit of recommendations issued by the state’s health and education departments, which strongly suggest virtual graduation ceremonies as the safest way to go. PHDMC is not approving or disapproving any graduation plan, he said, noting, “We have confidence our school districts will make the right decisions.” The state health department’s statement on graduation ceremonies is on the PHDMC website at phdmc.org/coronavirusupdates
  • RESTAURANTS & BARS: Businesses in the category of restaurants and bars are supposed to remain closed in terms of in-person consumption. If any open before they are allowed to, Cooper said PHDMC will investigate and deliver a cease operation order for businesses not in compliance.
  • DONATIONS FOR MASKS: The Montgomery County Emergency Management Agency is asking residents to donate clean, cotton fabric (preferably white, gray or tan) for the making of masks/face coverings. Please drop off donated cloth, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., to the St. Vincent DePaul loading dock, 945 S. Edwin C. Moses Blvd. The Montgomery County EMA has delivered PPE to 232 organizations throughout the area.
  • PUBLIC WI-FI: Citizens can now access public, secure Wi-Fi while parked in the Montgomery County Job Center north lot, which allows citizens to apply for unemployment benefits and other public assistance programs. The Job Center is at 1111 W. Edwin C. Moses Blvd. Select the JFS Public Wi-Fi option in settings. No password needed. Access extends out about 10 spaces in each row in front of the red, orange or blue doors.
  • ASYMPTOMATIC PEOPLE: Michael Dohn, M.D., PHDMC medical director, said he is worried about clerks at convenience stores who are being exposed to hundreds of people who may be asymptomatic. Clerks and sales force workers are being put at risk by people who don’t wear masks, he said, because nobody knows how many asymptomatic individuals there are walking around.

President Trump offered comments Thursday afternoon on the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Here are the highlights:

  • COVID-19 ‘NOT MANMADE’: Trump said he didn’t see the Office of National Intelligence report, made public Friday, that concluded the coronavirus is “not manmade.” He wanted to know who wrote the findings. According to national reports, U.S. intelligence agencies concluded the new coronavirus was “not manmade or genetically modified” but said they are still examining whether the origins of the pandemic trace to contact with infected animals or an accident at a Chinese lab. The statement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the clearinghouse for the web of U.S. spy agencies, comes as Trump and his allies have touted the as-yet-unproven theory that an infectious disease lab in Wuhan, the epicenter of the Chinese outbreak, was the source of the global pandemic that has killed more than 220,000 people worldwide.
  • FLAGS AT HALF-STAFF: President Trump said he “wouldn’t mind” having flags lowered to half-staff to signify national mourning for COVID-19 victims.

LATEST STATE DATA: As of Thursday afternoon, there are 18,027 cases in the state, 975 deaths, and 3,533 hospitalizations, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

Ohio has an estimated population of approximately 11.7 million, census records show.

The state’s long-term care facilities have seen 17 percent of the total cases in Ohio.

Of the state’s positive cases, 22% are from Ohio’s prisons. At those prisons, there has been an increase in testing.

There have been 133,248 people tested for coronavirus in Ohio. In the state, 2,880 cases are health care workers, which is 16 percent of the cases.

It is important to note the number of confirmed cases is not a true reflection of actual cases in the state because of the limited amount of testing available. The hope is that the number of cases will be more accurate because of the expansion of the testing standards.

The state remains under an extended stay-at-home order until Friday.

Things you need to know, today:

  • MASK RULES FOR CUSTOMERS: Customers at an Ohio business should wear a face covering, out of respect to protect others.
  • MASK RULES FOR WORKERS: Employees are required to wear them when on the job. Exceptions for employers and employees include when an employee is prohibited by a law or regulation from wearing one while on the job; when wearing one on the job is against documented industry best practices; when is not advisable for health purposes; when it is a violation of a company’s safety policies; when a worker is sitting alone in an enclosed workspace; and when there is a practical reason a worker cannot wear one.
  • COMMENCEMENT: Social distancing must be of the utmost importance when planning commencement events, DeWine said. The Ohio Department of Health and Ohio Department of Education are recommending virtual graduation ceremonies as the preferred way to handle the event. They also recommend a drive-thru style graduation or a ceremony involving 10 or less people at a time.
  • GRADUATION CELEBRATIONS: State guidelines call for no more than 10 people at any graduation parties planned by families, the governor said.
  • TAX FILERS WITH CHILDREN: Social Security recipients who have eligible children need to file with the IRS by Tuesday, May 5, to receive the additional $500 per child payment via the CARE Act.

Other things you need to know today: