COLUMBUS — Governor Mike DeWine, Lt. Governor Jon Husted, and Dr. Amy Acton on Saturday, April 4, urged Ohioans to begin wearing cloth masks while in public, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
On Friday, the CDC issued the recommendation that citizens wear face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
“In many cultures around the world, wearing a mask is just part of the culture — it is a socially accepted act of kindness,” said Governor DeWine. “Wearing a mask should not scare people. It is a good thing. It is a considerate thing. It is a courageous thing.”
Wearing a mask will not prevent someone from contracting COVID-19, but it can help prevent them from spreading it to others — especially if they have it, but are not yet showing symptoms.
Wearing a cloth mask in public is not mandatory, but it is strongly recommended. Cloth masks are not a substitute for social distancing, but rather, it is a complement to social distancing.
Guidance on how to make a homemade mask can be found on coronavirus.ohio.gov.
Medical supply masks, such as N95 respirators, must be reserved for healthcare workers, first responders, and those who are known to be sick. Anyone with personal protective equipment to donate to frontline workers. To donate, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov.
Telehealth executive order
Governor DeWine on Saturday signed an executive order that will allow Ohioans to more easily access telehealth services from individual counselors, social workers, and marriage and family counselors.
In normal circumstances, a patient must have had a face-to-face first meeting and counselors and social workers before qualifying for a telehealth appointment; the providers would also be required to take special training in providing telehealth services. This order will enable those requirements to be removed so that patients can more easily access these needed services.
“Mental health is just as important as physical health, and in this time of social distancing and stay at home orders, we are trying to ensure that those who need services can access them without leaving their homes,” said Governor DeWine.
Lt. Governor Husted announced that BroadbandOhio has been working with providers to find public wi-fi hotspot locations for Ohioans who may not otherwise have access to the internet from home.
A list of hotspot finders and locations by provider is available at Coronavirus.Ohio.Gov/BusinessHelp. You can find it by accessing the “Individuals and Families” tab. Those without internet access are urged to visit a known hotspot to access the complete list.
“Some of these hotspots offer parking lot availability so you can go there, download work emails, or school lesson plans, and then have it on your device when you return home,” said Lt. Governor Husted.
Service providers offering public wi-fi hotspots that are not listed on the website are encouraged to get on the list by emailing Together@Governor.Ohio.gov with contact information.
Governor DeWine announced late last week The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center is now partnering with the Ohio Department of Health to help increase the availability of testing supplies needed for testing citizens for COVID-19.
“Because of supply chain problems, we can’t always get the swabs and tubes and transport liquid, and there is also a shortage in the chemicals or reagents necessary to run the tests,” said Governor DeWine. “Through this new partnership, we are working to get these resources and provide them to those conducting the testing.”
N95 mask sanitizing:
Lt. Governor Jon Husted announced Battelle and JobsOhio have partnered to provide free N95 mask sanitizing for hospitals for the next two weeks.
Last week, after urging from Governor DeWine and Lt. Governor Husted, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of new Battelle technology to sanitize these masks for reuse.
Ohio still faces a critical shortage of PPE. Anyone with items to donate should email email@example.com. Manufacturers that may be able to temporarily repurpose to create PPE are asked to visit repurposingproject.com.
Early prison release
Governor DeWine also announced last week he will recommend the early release of 38 prison inmates.
The inmates fall into two categories: pregnant inmates and those who are recently postpartum, and inmates who are vulnerable to COVID-19 at 60 years old or older and have 120 days or less remaining on their sentence.
Governor DeWine will send a letter to the judges who presided over these cases and encourage them to grant early release. These cases do not involve any individuals convicted of serious violent crimes such as, but not limited to, murder, sexual assault, and domestic violence.
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) will work with the courts to hold these hearings remotely. If a victim was involved in the case, they will be notified and given the opportunity to provide a statement.
New educational resource
The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) last week released a special guide to help schools, educators, students, parents, and caregivers as they navigate remote learning.
The new Remote Learning Resource Guide will support the ability of each child to carry on learning during this time of social distancing.
ODE consulted with educators across Ohio as they compiled the remote learning guide and incorporated their best advice for finding remote-learning information and how to use it.
The guide includes online learning resources, as well as several less technical resources.
The guide is available on the Ohio Department of Education’s website and on coronavirus.ohio.gov.
Current Ohio data
At press time Monday, there were 4,450 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 142 deaths. A total of 1,214 people had been hospitalized, including 371 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov.