Coronavirus: Ohio ramping up testing in nursing homes this week, DeWine says

Ohio will start a new effort to increase testing in nursing homes, especially those that have a history with coronavirus, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Tuesday.

The plan will start with nursing homes that have a history of the virus.

All staff will be tested for coronavirus, with residents being tested based off assessments, including those who were likely exposed to the virus, DeWine said.

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Testing will be carried out by Congregate Care Unified Response Teams, which will included members of the Ohio National Guard.

While the governor said he isn’t sure how many nursing homes will be tested each week, updates will be given.

The effort to ramp up testing is part of the state’s most recent goals to be able to focus on hot spots and increase local health departments’ contract tracing abilities.

Multiple nursing homes in Ohio, including some in the Miami Valley, saw outbreaks of the virus among patients and staff, prompting the governor to halt all visitations to nursing home facilities.

When asked why testing wasn’t ramped up in nursing homes sooner, DeWine said this is the first time the state has the capacity to do it.

Because visitors are not allowed at nursing homes, the virus is likely being brought into nursing homes by staff, DeWine said. That’s why the state is focusing on testing all staff members first and then patients and residents as facilities see fit.

“The only direction I’ve given is to save lives,” he said.

Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton added that just because a nursing home has a case of coronavirus doesn’t mean that the facility is doing anything wrong.

There have been 33,006 total cases and 2,002 deaths attributed to coronavirus in the state, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

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Confirmed cases are at 30,827 and confirmed deaths at 1,803.

The state has reported a total of 5,579 hospitalizations during the pandemic, with 1,450 ICU admissions.

The median age of cases is 49, said Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton.

The state is staying stable in COVID-19 cases that require ICU admissions, she added.

Testing in Ohio is around 8,000 to 10,000 tests a day, DeWine said. Earlier this month he projected that Ohio’s testing capacity would hit 22,000 a day by the end of May.

Acton explained that the testing capacity projected was how many tests machines can run in one day and that some of the issues the state is seeing is due to issues with staffing, swabs and reagents.

The governor added that Ohio still isn’t where he wants to be with testing, but that the state is working on getting there.

DeWine continued to ask Ohioans to wear masks or face covering while out in public to prevent the virus from spreading.

Wearing a mask isn’t a political statement or issue, the governor said. Instead, it’s matter of loving your neighbor and wanting to protect each other.

>> Long lines at the BMV opening today, agency extends expiration date for licenses

Today, Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicle offices, fitness centers and pools are able to reopen.

Long lines were reported at BMV locations throughout the Miami Valley this morning before the offices had even open their doors

Today also marks the day that low- and non-contact sports, including golf, tennis, softball, baseball and paddle sports can resume. All sports can resume training and conditioning today as long as physical contact is avoided, among other health measures.

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