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Video still from March 14 press briefing, live-streamed at the Ohio Channel,

“It’s going to be a while”: Highlights from governor’s March 14 press briefing

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From the March 14 live-streamed press briefing on the status of coronavirus in Ohio and the state’s response—

Confirmed cases of coronavirus in Ohio doubled between Friday and Saturday. There are now at least 26 cases in the state, up from 13 yesterday, as well as 264 persons under investigation, according to this afternoon’s state tallies. In addition, 85 people in Ohio have tested negative for the virus.

Four cases involving family members have now been confirmed in Butler County, north of Cincinnati. One case involving a Columbus man has been confirmed in Franklin County.

The age range of confirmed cases is 31 to 86 years old, with a mean age of 53. There have been seven hospitalizations and zero deaths, according to Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton.

Those numbers are likely just the beginning of the virus’ spread in Ohio, Acton added. She predicted Saturday that the numbers next week would “dramatically rise,” with a peak expected in late April to early May.

“This is going to spread everywhere,” she said, citing epidemiological models that predict an infection rate of 40% to 70% if social distancing and other measures aren’t taken.

Many who get the disease will have few or no symptoms, making it important to limit social contact to avoid infecting others, she said. 

The state has limited supplies of testing kits, and most with the virus who are mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic will not be tested, Acton said. Individuals are being asked to self-quarantine and contact medical providers if symptoms develop.

Those seeking medical help for possible coronavirus symptoms should call their medical providers, including the ER, prior to showing up so that medical staff can take appropriate measures.

Governor Mike DeWine noted that COVID-19 is twice as infectious as the flu, and “20 times” more deadly. 

New recommendations

In order to conserve hospital capacity in Ohio, the state has asked dentists and veterinarians to postpone elective surgeries. Doctors are also being asked to postpone elective surgeries provided that the health of the patient is not at risk, according to DeWine.

Regarding daycare centers, which presently remain open, DeWine said the state is asking parents to temporarily take their children out of those facilities, if possible, to slow the spread of the illness. 

“If you have the ability to take your child out of that setting, you should do so,” DeWine said.

In response to a question, DeWine said that state closure of daycare centers remains a possibility.

Asked about potential mass transit restrictions and other measures, DeWine replied that there’s “nothing we’re not looking at” to minimize large gatherings of people and stem the spread of the virus.

DeWine emphasized that the state’s response to the virus would continue over a period of weeks or months.

“It’s going to be a while,” he said.

To listen to the March 14 press briefing, click here. Gov. DeWine’s briefings on the status of COVID-19 and the state’s response are live-streamed at 2 p.m. daily, excluding Sundays.

Those with questions or concerns about COVID-19 may call the Ohio Department of Health call center at 1-833-4-ASK-ODH. The call center is staffed from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day.

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