Coronavirus Pandemic: Ohio cases surpass 5,000; 193 have died

What you need to know - April 8th

Ohio is now under an extended stay-at-home order until May 1.

There are now at least 5,148 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Ohio with 193 deaths, according to the Ohio Department of Health. In Ohio, 1,495 people suffering from COVID-19 have been admitted to hospitals.

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

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The state has a population of 11.6 million.

The rate at which confirmed coronavirus cases in Ohio is increasing is going down, according to an analysis by WHIO.

Coronavirus cases in Ohio increased by 7 percent from Tuesday to Wednesday. Comparatively, cases increased by 8 percent the day before, and last week, cases were increasing 13 to 17 percent. In late March, cases were increasing by 23 to 31 percent daily.

Dr. Amy Acton, state health director, said Ohio is below the curve that initially was being targeted, but says it’s important to keep the current measures in place to prevent cases from climbing. “Don’t let up now,” she said.

While the state is tracking confirmed 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.

Gov. Mike DeWine provided a statewide update at 2 p.m.

The following announcements were made:

  • An Ohio corrections officer has passed away from coronavirus. John Dawson, 55, was from Mansfield, was a corrections officer at the Marion Correctional Institution and worked there since 1996. He tested positive for COVID-19 on March 30 and was the second officer to test positive in the Marion facility. He worked in the control center handing out equipment to staff. He had underlying health conditions.
  • DeWine made a plea to hospitals and others to not throw away N95 masks as they are precious materials. He’s asking hospitals to take advantage of Battelle’s service to sterilize the masks, which can be done up to 20 times. Battelle can now sterilize up to 160,000 N95 masks a day.
  • DeWine said child abuse numbers are down in the state, but he believes that’s because not as many eyes are on at-risk children. You can report child abuse at 855-642-4453.
  • Apple and CEO Tim Cook donated 100,000 N95 to Ohio for front line healthcare workers. Ohio received the masks Tuesday. DeWine thanked them for the donation.
  • The National Guard continues to help Ohioans. They are at food banks, helping to distribute food and supplies to families. Members are also working with General Harris and Dr. Acton in helping to expand hospital capacity in our state.
  • DeWine has asked Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation to send up to $1.6 billion in dividends to Ohio employers this spring to ease the economic impact of coronavirus. This dividend equals approximately 100% of the premiums employers paid in policy year 2018. BWC will apply the dividend to an employer’s outstanding balances first, including the recent installment deferrals. Any amounts exceeding outstanding balances will be sent to the employer.
  • By the end of the week, nearly 1,000 employees at the unemployment call center will be helping those impacted by coronavirus.
  • 22,000 programs with Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services have been approved to operate to assist essential employees, including with childcare.
  • Ohio is in a much better place than state leaders thought we would be in thanks to the efforts made by Gov. DeWine and Ohioans, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said. “We have not experienced the catastrophic scenarios we would have had those actions not taken place,” he said.
  • Husted said that life will not likely return to pre-COVID-19 conditions. There will be many thoughtful decisions on what we must do to stop a second surge. It will be a gradual pull-back of restrictions as we try to get back to normal, he said. The emphasis on hygiene will not go away. Hand-washing, sanitizers are still important. Masks, gloves will become more common. Don’t be offended if you don’t get handshakes or hugs for a while.
  • 53,341 Ohioans have been tested for coronavirus.
  • 1,064 health care workers have tested positive, which is 21 percent of the confirmed cases.
  • A newly released model from Ohio State University shows a drastic decrease in projected cases in Ohio because of the social distancing measures the state has implemented. The model is now projecting approximately 1,600 cases per day at the peak, where previously it was projecting 10,000 cases per day at the peak.
  • Acton said it could still be a couple weeks before the state could see a slow easing of restrictions in the business sector, but cautioned that mass gatherings won’t be happening any time soon.
  • DeWine was critical of churches holding in-person services. “Let me be blunt: We are not going to interfere with first amendment rights to practice your religion. But I don’t know any religion that wants you to seriously endanger other people. I don’t know any religion that says it’s OK not to worry about your neighbor.”

Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County held its daily briefing about 4 p.m.

Here are the highlights:

  • ISSUES WITH HUNGER: More families in Montgomery County are experiencing hunger for the first time, said Haley Carretta, food systems project manager, Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County. “It’s OK to ask for help,” she said.
  • RESOURCES FOR FOOD INSECURITY: The Foodbank Dayton offers a drive-through pantry Monday-Wednesday-Friday, this week 10 a.m. until Noon. Call 937-949-4096; The House of Bread is offering to-go orders; SNAP recipients can order groceries online; Contact your local school district for information on how to get food your children; Dayton Public Schools has distributed more than 193,400 meals to its students since mid-March (meals are made available every Wednesday).
  • ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES: Ice cream trucks are allowed to continue their operations, health Commissioner Jeff Cooper said, but consistent complaints against them about social distancing will result in Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County issuing cease-and-desist orders, Cooper said. Hairdressers and barbers can sell and deliver hair care products, but they are not allowed to go to the homes of clients to perform services, Mayor Nan Whaley said.
  • SOCIAL DISTANCING: High school student leaders have been working with Mayor Whaley to begin a messaging campaign directed toward their peers. Collections for cloth masks continue at City Hall, the mayor said, for front line workers who interact with the public -- bus drivers, refuse collection fore example. Whaley said she has been speaking with area faith leaders about their plans for Holy Week services, encouraging them to find other ways to celebrate rather than holding services.
  • COVID-19 & FINANCIAL IMPACT ON HOSPITALS: A projected drop in confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ohio to about 1,600 a day at the peak from 10,000 a day at the peak because of the state instituting social distancing measures is having a financial impact on area hospitals, said Sarah Hackenbracht, president/CEO, Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association. Area hospitals are constrained and affected already because of the elimination of elective surgeries in March, she said. The elimination of those services led hospitals to furlough non-essential health care workers in anticipation of a surge of coronavirus patients. “Members [of the association] are actively concerned,” she said, about the impact the projected drop in confirmed cases would have on the bottom lines at hospitals.

President Donald Trump and the White House coronavirus task force offered an update on the virus and other issues Wednesday afternoon.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • ON U.S. DEATH PROJECTIONS: Trump said he thinks “we’re doing much better” than a projection from a week ago suggesting 100,000 to 240,000 U.S. deaths from the coronavirus. The same key scientific model that issued that number is now suggesting 61,000 U.S. deaths. Task force member Dr. Debbie Birx said it’s reflective of what the United States is doing in terms of mitigation (hand washing, social distancing, staying at home, etc.).
  • ON DRUGS: There are 10 drugs are in clinical trials, Trump said. There are 30 million hydroxychloroquine pills in the National Strategic Stockpile, Trump said. The doses are being distributed across the country to state governments, he said, but offered no information about how the doses are being tracked.
  • ON REPATRIATION: The State Department repatriation task force since Jan. 29 has brought home more than 50,000 Americans stranded across the globe when the COVID-19 clampdown began, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said. The majority are ordinary citizens who were on vacations or visiting families. Others are State Department employees who were working in U.S. facilities in capital cities. A handful have tested positive for the coronavirus. Pompeo said he’s not sure whether any of them will be given hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug Trump has been touting. Pompeo said there are still thousands of Americans yet to be returned - some government employees, some not. “We’ll be done when people can travel safely again,” he said. There have been three fatalities among State Department employees working in State Department facilities around the world, Pompeo said.
  • ON WHO FUNDING: The U.S. has paid $452 million to the World Health Organization, while China paid $42 million, which Trump said was not fair. “Every country has to be treated properly,” he said of the WHO, accusing the organization of being “China centric” in its thinking about the coronavirus outbreak. The task force will be studying the U.S. relationship with the WHO to determine whether to withdraw funding.
  • ON BORIS JOHNSON: The British prime minister remains in intensive care after contracting COVID-19 but reportedly is improving, according to news reports. “Hopefully, he’s going to be OK,” Trump said.

Here’s what else you need to know:

  • The Greene County Sheriff’s Office deputy who tested positive for COVID-19 has been released from the hospital and will continue his recovery at home, according to Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer.
  • Ohioans enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will soon receive additional support to help them during the pandemic. Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) announced yesterday that those who did not already receive the maximum monthly allotment for their household size in March will be issued an additional payment beginning this week.
  • Yesterday, the Ohio Liquor Control Commission passed an emergency rule to allow establishments with an existing on-premises liquor permit to sell and deliver alcohol, including high-proof liquor in limited quantity. Under the rule, patrons can purchase two, prepackaged drinks per meal.
  • Gov. DeWine announced that there are 141 inmates within 90 days or less of being released in minimum security prisons in the state that the state is considering for release. Another 26 prisoners over the age of 60 will be considered for early release.
  • The state is working with U.S. companies to aggressively try and acquire antibody testing kits, as they will be critical to the state’s exit strategy.
  • Some of the 12 to 18 area businesses in Montgomery County on the cease-and-desist list, accusing them of not following the stay-at-home or social distancing rules, have been found to be in compliance and some were asked to produce more information explaining how they are following the rules, Health Commissioner Jeff Cooper said. The office will have reviewed all of those businesses in the next day or two, then inspectors will deal with the next group of businesses on the list of 218 that had complaints filed against them.
  • Mark Pompilio, Community Blood Center, said the FDA is close to finalizing the center’s COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma donation program, where a person who has been infected and recovered can donate blood plasma for its antibodies. The antibodies would then be injected into another survivor and the new antibodies would fight the virus in the recipient. The center hopes to post the rules and the application for the special donor program by Friday.
  • COVID-19 & BLACK COMMUNITIES: Trump acknowledged that COVID-19 is hitting African-American communities disproportionately hard. The task force will be analyzing underlying health issues affecting black people in an effort to understand why black people are dying at high rates. The task force has evidence that black Americans are more susceptible to poor outcomes than anyone else, task force member Dr. Debbie Birx said. She called on historically black colleges and universities to help improve the messaging about mitigation practices.
  • PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM: Trump said he will ask Congress for an additional $250 billion in funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, a program that makes forgivable loans available for small businesses that keep workers employed for eight weeks.
  • ON U.S. FUNDING THE WHO: Trump said he will “look at" freezing U.S. funding to the World Health Organization. He said they “missed the call” about the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the WHO seemed to come down on the side of China.
  • ON JANUARY MEMOS WARNING OF POSSIBLE PANDEMIC: Trump said he didn’t see January memos from his adviser, Peter Navarro (assistant to the president and national Defense Production Act policy coordinator), warning of the possibility of a pandemic. The president said the memos were out about the time he said he decided to close down travel from China. Trump said Navarro shouldn’t have told him about the memos because it was a feeling he had. “I basically did what the memo said,” Trump said. He said he would read the memo after the briefing.
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