Monday Update: Battelle Technology Approved, School Return Date Pushed Back

COLUMBUS (News Talk 1480 WHBC) – Once again, Governor Mike DeWine along with other state leaders and health officials spoke in Columbus, providing updates on COVID-19 in Ohio. Below is a full recap on everything that was discussed.

Update on Cases

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) reports that 10 more people have died from COVID-19, bringing the state’s death total to 39.

19 counties have at least one death in the Buckeye State. Ohio now has 1,933 confirmed cases of COVID-19. 70 counties have at least one confirmed case.

Dr. Amy Acton with the ODH says that more than 27,000 Ohioans have been tested. Ohio currently has a positive test rate of around 7%.

475 Ohioans have been hospitalized so far; 163 have been admitted into the intensive care unit. Stark County now has 44 confirmed cases with two deaths, while Summit County has 118 cases and five deaths.

Battelle Technology Fully Approved

Governor DeWine says that last night the state received news that Battelle can sterilize surgical masks without a daily limit.”We are very happy,” said DeWine. “We know that today they are moving forward and in a few days they will be up to full capacity.”

Just one day ago, the Governor called a press conference to voice his frustration with the FDA’s original decision that only allowed the Battelle machines to sterilize 1,000 masks a day. After speaking with FDA officials and President Trump, the technology was given full clearance.

School Return Date Pushed Back

The state’s original order to close school buildings was for 3 weeks. However, Governor DeWine says that simply isn’t enough time. The Governor announced that the state is giving an additional order that will push back the return date to Friday, May 1. DeWine says the state will reevaluate as the date gets closer.

Prisons Making PPE

State prisons are now working to help address the personal protective equipment shortage health care workers are facing. So far inmates have made 500 hospital gowns. They will be able to make 44,000 when they get additional fabric.

Prisons will be able to start making cough masks – similar to surgical masks — soon and will be able to make 5,000 a day up to a total of 2 million. The prisons are awaiting the delivery ingredients around April 14th, and should be able to make 1,460 gallons of hand sanitizer.

DeWine says prisons are also gearing up to make face shields. They are currently sourcing out the materials and making patterns. Further, each prison that has its own workshop will make masks for the people in those prisons.

Additional Help for Those in Need

The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (Ohio MHAS) is directing some federal opioid response funding to help people living in recovery housing or engaged in treatment to maintain their current housing and prevent homelessness.

DeWine says this Department is also deploying some federal funds to cover additional expenses that Adult Care Facilities are taking on because of COVID19. The CDC guidelines and information about all of these funding opportunities are on the state’s coronavirus website. 

The Ohio MHAS has created an email address, [email protected], if you or your organization have questions or recommendations related to one of these issues.

National Guard Taking on Greater Role

As promised a few weeks ago, Governor DeWine gave an update on the National Guard’s involvement in Ohio. Major General John Harris jr. with the Ohio National Guard joined DeWine to give some details.

“You are going to see guard members in our communities in increasing numbers,” said Major General Harris jr. “They will be liaising with local leaders to make sure we’re doing all we can to help.”

The National Guard will primarily be working with health departments, assisting them in any way needed.

More Orders to Come

Governor DeWine says addtional measures could be taken soon to help enforce social distancing.

“We will have a new order in the next several days,” said DeWine. “The concern is the same: we have to slow this down and the only way to do it is if people separate.”

DeWine says that as the weather gets nicer, the more people will want to congregate outside. He reitereated that it is fine for Ohioans to be outside as long as they keep a social distance from others who are outside.

However, DeWine says that he’s received reports that some have continued to ignore the social distancing guidelines.