Ohio’s early and aggressive moves to flatten the curve of COVID-19 appear to be working, according to the most recent modeling.
Dr. Amy Acton, Ohio Department of Health director, said the latest models predict 1,600 cases per day as opposed to early models which predicted 9,800 new cases per day.
“Still a lot of cases per day, still a load on our hospitals, but this is the effect you have done,” she said during an April 8 press conference. “We are going in the right direction, but we are not out of the woods yet."
Acton said Ohioans should continue practicing social distancing and appropriate hygiene measures. If those measures are relaxed too early, any effort to prevent overwhelming hospitals could be reversed.
To continue the gains Ohio has experienced, Acton asked religious leaders to refrain from calling gatherings as some religious holidays like Passover approach. Congregating in any way should be avoided and added as an example that her family is participating in a virtual seder to continue practicing social distancing.
This Passover is different than many celebrated before, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said.
“Yet in spite of the pandemic, we find ourselves celebrating the festival of freedom,” he said. “Passover teaches us that with sacrifice with faith together we can overcome anything.”
DeWine asked the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation to send $1.6 billion in dividends to Ohio employers this spring to help businesses who have been impacted by COVID-19.
“We know this will help,” DeWine said.
The dividends equal about 100% of premiums employers have paid in policy year 2018 and will be applied to business' outstanding balances first. Any amount exceeding the outstanding balance will be given to the employers.
About $1.4 billion will go to private employers and $200 million will go to local government taxing district if approved by the BWC’s board of directors.
Kimberly Hall, director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, video called into the conference to reassure that eligible Ohioans who have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic will receive their unemployment benefits.
She said $124 million has already been given out to 195,000 Ohioans impacted by the pandemic. She added that her department has hired more people, increased its technological capacity and have been working longer hours to serve Ohioans as much as possible.
The call center availability has also been extended to 7 days and there will be 1,000 staff members taking calls by the end of the week, she said.
“I want everyone impacted to know I understand, and my entire team understands, that you are proud hardworking people who have done everything you can to be productive members of this economy and support your family,” she said.
DeWine stressed the need to recycle personal protective equipment, such as masks, as Ohio continues to face the COVID-19 pandemic. He pleaded with hospitals to think before throwing away any PPE and to instead send used masks to Battelle, which can sanitize 160,000 masks a day.
“We don’t have enough masks,” he said. “Every mask is precious, do not throw one away."
Apple donated 100,000 N95 masks to Ohio, DeWine announced.
Among other issues addressed during the press conference include:
- Lt. Governor Jon Husted said there are about 33,000 jobs available on the state’s COVID-19 website. These jobs are at businesses deemed essential like healthcare, manufacturing and food supply.
- DeWine said April is Child Abuse Prevention month. Those who prevent child abuse are mandatory reporters such as teachers, coaches and child-care providers. Because schools are closed, mandatory reporters are not about to see these children. DeWine asked that others be more vigilant of child abuse. Reports of child abuse are lower because there are not enough eyes on these children, he said.
Ohio now has 5,148 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 193 deaths, the Ohio Department of Health reported April 8. That's an increase of 366 confirmed cases and 36 deaths since April 7.
The ODH reports 53,341 individuals have been tested in Ohio.
Cuyahoga County accounts for 960 of the confirmed cases, 268 hospitalizations and 23 deaths.
The ODH reports 1,495 individuals have been hospitalized, and 472 have been admitted to the ICU due to the coronavirus.
The individuals who have tested positive range in age from less than 1 year old to 101 years old, with a median age of 54.
If you have questions regarding COVID-19, call 833-4ASKODH (833-427-5634) or visit coronavirus.ohio.gov.