COLUMBUS — During a Tuesday press conference, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Health Director Dr. Amy Acton stated that an order will be issued that all elective surgeries and medical procedures be postponed.
As of 2 p.m. on Tuesday, there were 67 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ohio, ranging in age from 14 years old to 86 years old, in 16 counties across the state. There are no confirmed cases in Meigs or Gallia counties or any of the counties which border them. Seventeen of those have resulted in hospitalizations.
Dr. Acton was joined by other state medical officials in making the announcement.
Dr. Andy Thomas, chief medical officer for The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, stated that they have been working to determine what surgeries and procedures would be safe to delay. “We now have guidance for healthcare providers … we created criteria to make something not elective.”
Non-elective procedures would include a “surgery that is life-saving, a procedure that saves an organ, or a procedure that prevents the progression of disease.”
Mike Abrams, CEO of the Ohio Hospital Association joined DeWine and Acton for the press conference, speaking to the status of Ohio’s hospitals as they prepare for the virus.
“The healthcare infrastructure in Ohio is strong,” said Abrams. He added that hospitals across the state are currently at around 75 percent capacity with typical hospitalizations this time of year.
“Ohio’s hospitals have plans in place for addressing a bigger surge. We are prepared,” said Abrams.
Acton stated that there is “no scenario” in which a surge of cases does not happen, but it is controlling the surge that makes a difference in the outcome.
“Timing is everything, but know we will get through this together. What we are doing is really making a difference,” said Acton.
Referencing a study done in the United Kingdom, Acton stated, “If we did nothing, the estimates were that 2.2 million Americans would die. But if we do these interventions, we can cut the hospital surge by two-thirds and decrease deaths by half. This is why what we are doing makes all the difference.”
“The better job we all do at controlling the spread, the better off we’re all going to be. We can’t write a rule that will solve everything, but collectively, when we all act smart, it will benefit us all in the end,” said Lt. Gov. Jon Husted.
DeWine did not order any additional closures or restrictions on Tuesday, outside of the order on medical procedures coming from Acton.
When asked about how the public should proceed with matters such as weddings and funerals, DeWine stated, “The sun is going to come out again. We’ll get back to normal. Regarding weddings, funerals — we ask you to figure out a way to celebrate your wedding but postpone the large gathering. For funerals, we suggest holding a small, private memorial, but do the large service later.”
Quoting former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, DeWine stated, “This is no ordinary time. This is no ordinary time in Ohio. This is no ordinary time in the U.S.”
Other developments regarding the COVID-19 outbreak on Tuesday include:
Colleges and Universities
Ohio State University and Capital University in Columbus, Youngstown State University, and the University of Findlay were among those announcing the cancellation of May commencement ceremonies, saying they couldn’t comply with restrictions severely limiting the size of gatherings.
Child Care Centers
DeWine also said new “temporary pandemic child care centers” will be allowed for health and safety workers whose presence at jobs is needed to protect the public from the coronavirus.
With numerous businesses ordered temporarily closed, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services said it had received 48,640 unemployment insurance benefit applications online in just two days this week, compared to typical filings of a few hundred. Restaurants are among the hardest-hit businesses because of restrictions on dining in. The Ohio Restaurant Association says Ohio has about 22,500 food service locations with 585,000 total employees. It urged people to consider takeout and pickup options. Ohio’s investor-owned utilities suspended disconnections for customers with past-due bills.
St. Patrick’s Day
Multiple St. Patrick’s Day parades were canceled in the past few days, including Tuesday in Columbus, one of the few Ohio cities that holds the parade on the holiday itself.
Ohio’s Roman Catholic bishops suspended all publicly celebrated Masses through Easter on April 12, extending an earlier suspension of services through Palm Sunday one week earlier.
For more information regarding COVID-19 in Ohio visit www.coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 833-4-ASK-ODH (833-427-5634).
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
© 2020 Ohio Valley Publishing, all rights reserved.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.