CLEVELAND — Stressing the need for a sense of urgency, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine along with state and local health officials, outlined the state's preparation for the possible spread of the coronavirus on Thursday at Cleveland's MetroHealth Medical Center.
DeWine was joined at the press conference by Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton, Cuyahoga County Health Director Terry Allan, and MetroHealth President and CEO Dr. Akram Boutros.
“I want to be clear that the threat of Coronavirus in Ohio and the United States remains low,” said DeWine at the start of the conference, “but this could change, and we have to be prepared."
DeWine reported that there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Ohio to date, adding that there are also no persons currently under investigation. 212 individuals are currently under 'public health supervision.' Seven people in Ohio have tested negative for COVID-19.
"All Ohioans must have a sense of urgency about this emerging health threat," DeWine stated. "It's imperative that we be open with the public. My commitment is that we will communicate what we know, when we know it. That is our obligation. That is what we intend to do."
DeWine outlined several steps that the state will take to help prevent the spread of both coronavirus and infuenza.
- He ordered the Ohio Department of Transportation to post information from the Ohio Department of Health in all state rest areas about proper hand-washing protocols. This includes messages on Ohio Travel TV.
- The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections and Youth Services will increase the frequency and use of disinfectant measures in its facilities to protect inmates, families, and staff.
- DeWine is urging all state colleges and universities to have their students, faculty members, and employees immediately receive a flu shot if they have not already.
- DeWine is asking colleges and universities to prohibit college-related travel to nations where the CDC is advising no travel (China and South Korea).
- He is also calling on the Ohio Department of Aging to identify 'the most vulnerable adults in our communities.' DeWine is also asking local aging advocates across Ohio to go out into their communities to check on nursing care facilities to ensure that all illness prevention methods are in place.
- DeWine says the State of Ohio will also be paying aggressive attention to common areas in state-owned buildings, including significantly increased cleaning frequency of these areas and hand sanitizer stations in common lobbies and hallways.
DeWine has called on all of Ohio's local public health departments, health commissioners, and staff to convene in Columbus for a summit on Thursday, March 5. Members of DeWine's Cabinet will also attend.
"As this situation evolves, we will continually update Ohioans through our website, odh.ohio.gov, our Facebook page and our Twitter account,” said Dr. Acton. “It’s important to remember that the most accurate and timely information regarding this outbreak is available through the Ohio Department of Health, as well as the CDC.”
The virus that emerged in China has infected more than 82,000 people and caused more than 2,800 deaths. That includes 60 cases in the United States.
The World Health Organization has named the illness COVID-19, referring to its origin late last year and the coronavirus that causes it.