Ohio Gov. DeWine extends school closures through May 1

Ohio Gov. DeWine extends school closures through May 1

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - On Monday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine extended the closure of all K-12 schools to May 1.

“We will re-evaluate as we get closer to that date,” he said.

DeWine said he wants to take school building closures “one chunk at a time.”

“"There is the real possibility that our schools could stay closed longer than this, but we want to give parents and teachers as much notice and flexibility as we can," Gov. DeWine said

The governor’s previous order was set to expire on April 3.

In Ohio, there are 39 confirmed coronavirus deaths and 1,933 confirmed cases. A total of 475 have been hospitalized and 27,275 people tested, DeWine said.

“We still see that our peak is going to be in a couple of weeks - maybe mid-late April. Depending on how successful we are with social distancing, we may push that out further,” Director of the Ohio Department of Health Dr. Amy Acton said.

He requested all hospitals to send COVID-19 samples when someone is tested to a place that does quick testing or the Ohio Department of Health.

“The Ohio Department of Health can get test results back within a matter of hours,” DeWine said. “The private labs do good work, but they are behind - ODH is not.”

DeWine said the state will have a new order in the next several days.

“The concern is the same - we have to slow this down and the only way to do it is if people separate,” he said.

He said with the weather getting better, social distancing is a concern.

“If you look at the weather yesterday, it was a great day to be out. But as the weather gets better, you are seeing people congregate in Metroparks and different places,” DeWine said. “It is a concern as the weather gets better. How well we do is determined by each individual in Ohio and how well they stay away from others.”

According to Dr. Acton, they are working to double the current PPE needed in hospitals. She says they need all of the increased equipment, staff and locations they can get.

“No hospital system in this world has ever faced what we’re facing now. Our planning will go through the surge and after the surge. We are learning a lot as we go through this,” Acton said.

Major General John Harris, Jr. with the Ohio National Guard says we’ll begin seeing servicemen in uniforms throughout neighborhoods.

“You’re going to see service members in your communities doing things in increasing numbers in the near future," he said.

According to Harris, they will mostly be working with healthcare workers to address capacity.

DeWine said state prisons are now making PPEs. So far inmates have made 500 hospital gowns and will make 44,000 more when they get additional fabric.

Inmates will begin making cough masks - similar to surgical masks - and will be able to make 5,000 a day up to a total of 2 million. They are waiting for supplies but will be able to make 1,400 gallons of hand sanitizer and face shields.

The FDA gave full approval late Sunday night to technology developed in Ohio that would allow hospitals to sterilize face masks used by frontline healthcare workers fighting COVID-19.

The agency gave only partial approval Friday, prompting Gov. DeWine to speak out against the decision after which he took the matter to President Trump.

Created by Columbus-based Battelle Memorial Institute, the new tech, placed inside sterilization machines, can sterilize up to 80,000 face masks every day -- masks that are in short supply nationwide.

The CEO of Battelle Memorial Institute, Lewis Von Thaer, says the sterilized masks can be used up to 20 times.

Gov. DeWine also announced Monday that he has formed a “Homelessness Team” to help people who may rely on homeless shelters, domestic shelters, group homes, and recovery housing - all of which pose challenges for social distancing.

The Coalition on Housing and Homelessness in Ohio, the Ohio Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and Ohio Recovery Housing are working as part of this team to provide localized guidelines for these shelters.

Here’s a current breakdown of coronavirus cases in Greater Cincinnati counties:

  • Hamilton: 101
  • Butler: 30
  • Clermont: 9
  • Warren: 20
  • Clinton: 3
  • Highland: 1

Copyright 2020 WXIX. All rights reserved.