CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said Ohio is still struggling to get face masks to people working on the frontline.
“We are trying to get more masks into the state, but this is a struggle. So the use of Battelle and the sterilization of these masks is very, very important,” he said.
Batelle has the capacity to sterilize 160,000 masks per day and DeWine is pleading the public to not throw them away.
“Please do not throw them away. We can reuse them up to 20 times because of this Battelle technology. When you throw a mask away you are depriving someone else of having a mask because we only have so many,” he said.
Lt. Governor Jon Husted reiterated the state must preserve PPE.
“We can’t open things up and put people in jeopardy until the state has what it needs so health care workers can be protected to treat other people,” he said.
DeWine said he spoke to Apple CEO Tim Cook Tuesday night and Apple donated 100,000 N-95 masks to Ohio. They will be given to frontline workers in the state.
Husted also added that a vaccine would be a game-changer to this pandemic, but that will likely not come around for a while.
Director of Ohio Jobs and Family Services Kimberly Hall said they are working to meet the needs of workers who have experienced sudden unemployment.
“I want everyone who has been unemployed to please know that all eligible Ohioans will receive their benefits and any delays in processing will not reduce the amount paid. At the end of this week, we will have nearly 1,000 employees taking calls. For those of you impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, my team won’t rest until you receive your benefits,” she said.
DeWine said the Ohio National Gaurd is stepping up to help fellow Ohioans across the state. They are at food banks, helping to distribute food and supplies to families.
“These food banks heavily relied on volunteers and during the stay-at-home order, they needed extra assistance to help families. Members are also working with General Harris and Dr. Acton in helping to expand hospital capacity in our state. They are making sure that Ohioans will be able to receive care when they need it,” he said.
Deaths are going to increase and cases are going to increase even though our efforts have bought us time, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton said.
“You have squashed this and stretched this curve. But please know that if you start going out, well go right back up. You have to keep doing what you’re doing,” she said. “The fear I have is when we have these silent victories people say COVID-19 was never there to begin with and there never was a threat. Please know - this battle is still ongoing. Please stay home Ohio.”
The Ohio Department of Health, ODH, announced that there are 5,148 confirmed novel coronavirus cases and 193 deaths.
About 53,000 people have been tested for COVID-19.
DeWine also spoke about the Death of Officer John Dawson who died from coronavirus. He was 55-years-old and had been a corrections officer at the Marion Correctional Institution 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 said. “Mr. Dawson’s death reminds us that although Ohio is doing comparatively well to other areas, we are still seeing a large number of deaths.”
So far across seven prisons in the state, 48 staff members and 17 inmates have tested positive for coronavirus.
Acton says they are still facing some test shortages and are looking at alternative testing efforts.
She stated it’s not science that predicts outcomes, but actions that predict outcomes.
Acton said she still believes the peak will be in mid-to-late April or early May before cases decline.
On Tuesday, DeWine said prisons pose a unique issue in this pandemic and he is working to relieve overcrowding in state prisons.
“We believe that there are specific inmates who could qualify for release who are already scheduled for release within the next 90 days,” he said.
The move would allow for increased social distancing between prison staff and inmates.
DeWine said they narrowed down the list to 141 inmates by eliminating those convicted of serious and violent charges.
The Ohio Liquor Control Commission passed an emergency rule on Tuesday to allow establishments with an existing on-premises liquor permit to sell and deliver alcohol, including high-proof liquor in limited quantity, for off-premises consumption, DeWine said.
“Under the rule, patrons can purchase two, prepackaged drinks per meal. All drinks must be closed and remain closed during transport as per open container law,” he said.