Coronavirus Pandemic: Students will be taught remotely for rest of school year, Gov. DeWine says

Pence: There is enough testing capacity for every state to enter Phase One of reopening plan

Gov. Mike DeWine announced that students will learn remotely for the remainder of the school year.

As of Monday afternoon, there are 12,919 cases in the state, 509 deaths and 2,653 hospitalizations, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

[ Local cases, deaths reported to Ohio Department of Health ]

There have been 90,839 people tested for coronavirus in Ohio. Of the cases in the state, 2,081 are health care workers.

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 May 1.

Ohio and several states remain on track to gradually reopen businesses beginning May 1 amid continuing concerns about a lack of testing, rapid testing, and personal protection equipment as well as the ability to perform contact tracing.

Spikes in new cases could slow or derail states’ plans to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Mike DeWine held his Monday press conference at 2 p.m. to provide an update on the state’s response to the coronavirus.

The following announcements were made:

  • DeWine announced that students will learn remotely for the remainder of the school year. This is being done since the virus remains and to go back to school now with a relatively small amount of time left - many educators have expressed to DeWine that this wouldn’t be a good idea even if the health situation was resolved. A decision on the fall has not been made, but schools are preparing. “I know parents, teachers, and administrators are anxious about an answer about the fall, but we’re not in the position to make that decision yet,” he said
  • DeWine stopped short of saying graduation ceremonies would be canceled, but said that schools will have to become innovative in how they recognize students. “It’s not going to be easy, and it’s a real shame. I can’t express how sorry I am about that because I know how much all of these activities mean to young people, especially those in their senior years,” he said
  • There is the possibility that the state will have a blended learning system this fall with some distance learning as well as some in-person learning. That’s just a possibility and each school district is different, the governor said
  • DeWine expressed concerns for children with special developmental needs, children with health challenges, children with no access to the Internet and children without a supportive home life as districts plan ahead for the fall. He said there has to be a focus on providing these children an education
  • DeWine has created a 38-member minority task force because he is concerned about COVID-19 disproportionately impacting African Americans in Ohio and the country. “This is very concerning,” he said. Data the state has on the racial breakdown of patients infected by COVID-19 is not yet complete, he said, but that early data shows the African American community makes up 21% of COVID-19 patients across the state. “That certainly is disproportionate to the African American population in the state of Ohio, which is somewhere between 13% and 14%,” said DeWine. He noted it’s more likely that, as additional data come in, the number of cases affecting the African American community in Ohio is likely to be far higher than the 21% indicated so far
  • The backlog at the commercial testing companies (LabCorp and Quest) has cleared, so the state is allowing hospitals to return to taking tests to those labs
  • The state will require coronavirus cases at nursing home/assisted living facilities be reported and separated by residents and staff members. This information will be shared by the state every Wednesday. Deaths at nursing home/assisted living facilities will be shared by county beginning next week, DeWine said
  • DeWine has directed the Ohio Department of Health to modify the data collection system to accurately collect case information for individuals who are direct care providers at hospitals, including the name of the hospital where they work. DeWine expects the data to be available soon. “You’ll be able to see by hospital the number of staff - if any - who have tested positive for COVID-19,” he said
  • There have been some upticks in cases in the state, however Dr. Amy Acton said those numbers should not come as a surprise as the state targets specific areas with testing
  • Acton said the state will continue to see “bumps" in the curve as breakouts happen in certain areas of the state. “We have to slowly go back in a way where when the hot spots occur, you can put them out immediately, and not have to dial back,” she said
  • The state has not made a decision on daycare facilities. For the same reason the state doesn’t want schools meeting in person - it’s the same concern for daycares, DeWine said. “It’s a number of kids together who then go back home - it’s a perfect recipe for spread. We’re not ready yet to open up more daycares yet," he said

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President Trump and the White House coronavirus task force held a briefing Monday afternoon.

Here are some highlights:

TESTING CAPACITY: Vice President Mike Pence, task force leader, said “we have enough testing capacity in American for every state to go to Phase One” of the White House guidelines on reopening states. Under Phase One, vulnerable individuals are required to continue sheltering in place. Their household members are advised to remain cautious for their at-risk family member(s). All people are advised to remain socially distant in public and avoid social settings of more than 10 people, unless precautionary measures are observed. The White House recommends minimizing non-essential travel, and for people to continue following Centers of Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. Employers should reopen businesses, allowing people to return to work in phases, and allow for telework and special accommodations for those who need it. Schools, bars and visits to hospitals should be avoided. Large venues, such as movie theaters, gyms and places of worship may open by following strict social distancing guidelines. Elective surgeries can resume on an outpatient basis

TESTING: The task force has given U.S. governors a list of 5,000 locations of federal labs and a list of available supplies (gowns, masks, etc.) to help states ramp up testing. Swabs made of polyester are being put into use now to expand the speed of testing, said Adm. Brett Giror, U.S. Public Health Service. Brad Smith, with the CMS innovations center, said the government is making available small and large machines that can process thousands of tests a day. One northeast U.S. company is to start four new lines to produce 20 million swabs a month, through the Defense Production Act. One Ohio company, he said, will soon be able to produce 10 million swabs a month. Smith also said more than 650,000 infrared thermometers are being made available to states

SUPPLIES: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has built thousands of beds in convention centers in New York City, Detroit and Chicago, said Lt. Col. Todd Semonite, Army Corps of Engineers. They have six more requests to build out medical facilities in smaller and more remote places, he said, but would not identify those locations. He would only say the Corps is working with mayors and governors on those projects

What you need to know Monday:

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