COLUMBUS (News Talk 1480 WHBC) – Governor Mike DeWine, along with other state leaders and health officials spoke in Columbus this afternoon, providing updates on COVID-19 in Ohio. Here is a complete outline on everything that was discussed.
The Ohio Department of Health’s latest report shows a notable jump in daily numbers for all major metrics. The state now has a total of 30,167 cases of COVID-19. Ohio’s death toll now sits at 1,836. 5,295 Ohioans have been hospitalized due to the virus; 1,397 have been admitted into the intensive care unit.
More than 297,000 COVID-19 tests have been administered in Ohio. Close to 10,000 have been administered in the past 24 hours. Ohio has a positive test rate of 10.1%.
The state’s latest report shows no new fatalities in Stark County. Stark has a total of 642 cases, 137 hospitalizations and 79 deaths.
Lt. Governor Jon Husted announced this afternoon that skills training for all sports may resume on May 26th, including contact sports, as long as safety protocols can be followed. Information on protocols can be found here. Tournaments, games, competitions for contact sports are still prohibited for now.
Additionally, miniature golf, batting cages, and bowling alleys will be able to resume operations on May 26th if they can meet appropriate safety protocols.
Lt. Governor Husted also spoke about Weddings. While never prohibited by law, Husted says an adjustment has been made to help Ohio couples celebrate their special day safely. Catering and banquet centers can reopen under similar guidelines as restaurants effective June 1. Guidelines include 6 feet between tables and no congregating. For the immediate future, crowd size will be limited to 300.
The African American community has been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus. African Americans make up 13%-14% of the Ohio population, yet 26% of those testing positive for the COVID-19 are African American.
“As Governor, my job is to help protect the safety of all of our communities,” Governor Mike DeWine said. “We have an obligation to be even more mindful in our response to helping those at higher risk. It should not matter where you live or what race you are. We have an obligation to help all Ohioans.”
Today the state of Ohio created two new data dashboards that look at key factors associated with health and well being so we can better determine vulnerable populations who need help.
In April, the state formed the Minority Health Strike Force to develop several specific COVID-19 recommendations focused on how communities of color are more likely to have underlying health conditions, less access to healthcare, and discrimination when accessing healthcare services. DeWine says the state will be releasing their preliminary report soon.
To help the state better meet public health needs going forward, DeWine announced that his administration is creating a new high-level position at the Ohio Department of Health: Deputy Director of Social Determinants of Health and Opportunity.
The person in this position will focus on the community conditions that affect health, well-being, and economic vitality. This new Deputy Director will lead Ohio’s response to social determinants of health and disparity.
A primary focus will be on collecting the best data to inform the best practices to lead our strategy moving forward. Further, a key function will be to help ensure the implementation of the Minority Strike Force’s short-term and long-term recommendations.
To expand access to COVID-19 testing in minority communities, the state has partnered with the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers which DeWine says is uniquely qualified to help.
“These health centers are placed in our most economically depressed communities and offer high quality comprehensive primary care.”
Ohio is also partnering with the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers and the Nationwide Foundation to distribute thousands of Community Wellness Kits. These kits will help protect families in communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
To support both health departments in their efforts to fight COVID-19 and the disproportionate impact on people of color in Ohio, DeWine’s administration is significantly increasing the number of public health workers who can help notify Ohioans of possible exposure to the virus.
“We are in the process of hiring these public health workers at both the state and local level,” said DeWine. “The goal is to hire individuals who represent and reflect the make-up of their own communities. We are grateful for the General Assembly’s support of these efforts.”
The state is directing $1 million in grants to specifically provide mental health and addiction services for hard-to-reach individuals throughout the state of Ohio.
The grants will allow faith-based and local community-based organizations to develop culturally appropriate messages, targeting those who may not be as easily reached by mass-media messaging efforts, such as racial/ethnic minorities, Appalachian/rural communities, older adults.