Coronavirus Pandemic: 5,836 confirmed cases in Ohio, 227 deaths; New standard for identifying cases, changes to Medicaid announced

Gov. Mike DeWine is sharing good news this week in reaction to a revelation that new projections show that at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic in Ohio, the number of new cases could drop to 1,600 a day -- a far cry from the earlier projection of 10,000 new cases a day.

The state’s system for identifying COVID-19 cases has been adjusted based on guidelines from the CSTE (Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists), Gov. Mike DeWine said Friday at his briefing on the state’s response to the pandemic.

Under these guidelines, probable cases will now be included if:

  • A quick blood test by your doctor reveals antibodies
  • Or clinical evidence of Coronavirus is present and there is no other likely diagnosis

Today, according to the Ohio Department of Health, there are 5,826 confirmed cases in the state, 227 confirmed deaths and 1,755 confirmed hospitalizations. An additional 42 cases and 4 deaths were cited by Dr. Amy Acton under the new standard of testing.

The state has a population of 11.6 million.

While the state is tracking cases, it’s important to note that due to the limited amount of testing available the number of confirmed cases is not a true reflection of actual cases in the state. The hope is that by expanding testing standards, the number will grow more accurate.

Meanwhile, the state remains under an extended stay-at-home order until May 1.

A number of changes have been made around Medicaid and Coronavirus. Medicaid has eased several benefit restrictions:

  • Prior authorizations will be by-passed for new prescriptions
  • Members will receive pharmacy benefits regardless of in-network or out-of-network provider status
  • The threshold for refills on certain prescriptions will be relaxed
  • Pharmacists who dispense emergency refills without a prescription will be reimbursed
  • Pharmacies that dispense over-the-counter medications with a prescription will be reimbursed

Gov. DeWine, Dr. Amy Acton and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted on Friday afternoon gave their briefing on the state’s response to the pandemic.

Here are the highlights:

  • DeWine made it clear he agrees with Montgomery County Health - Dayton & Montgomery County’s view against community parades. “It should not be happening,” he said
  • ODOT has created a permit for food vendors to set up food trucks at rest stops for truckers. The permit will be free
  • Dr. Acton cited new criteria regarding surgeries for what procedures should be considered “essential” if not performed: If there is a threat to a patient’s life, if there is a threat for permanent dysfunction of an extremity or organ, or if there is a risk of a disease or condition will progress or worsen

The governor presented a video created by Ohio students showcasing why they are staying at home.

Students came together to showcase how they are staying at home.

President Trump and the White House coronarvirus task force gave their briefing just after 1 p.m. Friday.

Here are the highlights:

  • U.S. COVID-19 DEATH TOLL: Trump said the projected number of deaths related to the coronavirus will be “substantially under” early estimates that indicated 100,000 people in the U.S. could die
  • RESTARTING U.S. ECONOMY: Trump said he’ll announce Tuesday a new task force made up of people from the medical and business communities to determine when and how to reopen the country, according to national media reports.

Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County held its update on the local response to the virus just after 4 p.m. Friday.

Here are the highlights:

  • NO MORE PARADES, Part 2: County Health Commissioner Jeff Cooper explained the department’s reasoning for announcing that all vehicle-only parades should stop. According to the state stay-at-home order, he said, people should not leave their homes except to perform essential activities, such as for health and/or safety, to get necessary supplies, to participate in certain outdoor activities for health or to take care of others. Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County was never focused on vehicle parades, Cooper said. “They do not fit the criteria. The order to say at home has specific criteria,” he said. “Leaving the home to do a vehicle parade is not an essential activity in our mind. No, we are not the vehicle police,” he said. “If the governor and the director of the Ohio Department of Health want to amend the order and add criteria, we would welcome that."
  • ESSENTIAL VS. NON-ESSENTIAL BUSINESS: Friday, Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County served three more “cease operation” orders -- to a video store and two smoke shops, Cooper said. Appeals can go to the state if businesses feel the decision in Montgomery County is not consistent with a decision in another county, he said. “Just because a business provides a good or service that is essential, does not mean they are essential as a business. We look at the core function,” he said, noting that for example, a smoke shop is in business to sell tobacco and tobacco products. “Just because they also sell over-the-counter Tylenol doesn’t mean the store is essential for health care," he said
  • FACE MASKS: Everyone who rides public transit is being asked to wear a cloth face mask, Cooper said.
  • STRESS MANAGEMENT: Accidental overdoses in the county have increased 48% above where the county was at this time last year, said Helen Jones-Kelley, executive director, ADAMHS. She is urging everyone to think compassionately and check on friends and loved ones who may be overwhelmed or stressed because of illness or job loss triggered by the pandemic. She urges everyone to utilize the services ADAMHS provides: text “4Hope to 741741”, call Samaritan Behavioral Crisis Care at 937-224-4646 or visit DaytonHeals.org
  • FIGHT ON: Michael Dohn, M.D., medical director, Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County, urged everyone to continue making the kind of decisions that have kept the number of COVID-19 cases locally as manageable. “This is the wrong time to say we’ve won,” he said. “We’ve accomplished something, but it’s not the end.”

Here’s what else you need to know: