Governor Mike DeWine
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced Tuesday new restrictions for nursing homes in the state and said that an executive order restricting mass gatherings would be coming in the next 24 to 36 hours.
DeWine and Dr. Amy Acton, Director of Ohio's Department of Public Health, said that there was now a fourth confirmed case of Covid-19 in Ohio, a 53-year-old man from Stark County, and that it represented the first case of "community spread."
"It's a new phase of the crisis," Dr. Acton said. "It's a game changer."
Acton said that all new guidelines, which mirror those being rolled out in other states, are being imposed out of love for vulnerable populations, particularly the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions. Acton stressed again that Ohio would likely see many more cases of Covid-19, but that taking personal steps to prevent its spread would help the state stay below the threshold at which medical systems become overburdened.
DeWine said that nursing home patients would be limited to one visitor per day and that all nursing homes must create a visitor log if one does not already exist. All guests — including staff, vendors and visitors — will be required to have a brief medical assessment upon entry to verify their good health.
The suggestions that DeWine offered Monday about canceling or restricting attendance at large gatherings will soon become an official order, he said. (He hinted that these gatherings may now include outdoor sporting events, but the order was still being drafted.) He indicated that an order from the state would give certain organizations — pro sports teams? — legal cover to cancel events.
"Look, the bigger the gathering, the greater the risk," DeWine said. "Everyone needs to protect themselves by making judgments. You have to ask, 'is this necessary?' And if the answer comes back no, probably the answer to doing it is no. We know things are going to get worse before they get better. It's going to be bad. The question is how bad."
Dr. Acton provided an update on the three Covid-19 patients in Cuyahoga County. She said that all three were in isolation in their homes and being actively monitored. An "extensive contact investigation" is underway as well which will test more than 100 people whom the patients came into contact with.
Acton's message was ultimately one of hope, despite what she called more "aggressive" measures.
"The actions we're all taking now really do make a difference," she said. "What I do right now affects your grandma. It won't be perfect. But the more we do, the more we flatten that curve."
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