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Nursing homes must report if residents, staff test positive

Governor orders notification by long-term care facilities

COLUMBUS — The subject of nursing homes and prisons dominated Monday’s update on the coronavirus by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.

The governor announced that he is requiring that all long-term care facilities in the state publicly report if a resident or staff member tests positive for COVID-19.

The governor said most facilities had been self-reporting such information, but Monday’s order makes it a requirement.

DeWine said a list of facilities with positive cases would be posted on the Ohio Department of Health’s coronavirus website at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

The decision was a reversal by the state and DeWine said the change came directly from him.

“If I was going into a nursing home, or had parent going into a home, I would want to know,” he said.

DeWine said his administration took action early, barring visitors to long-term care facilities, except in end-of-life situations.

“You have every right to know what situation is there,” he said of the change in reporting.

Dr. Amy Acton, the director of the Ohio Department of Health, said Ohio had 6,975 confirmed COVID-19 cases on Monday, with 274 deaths reported.

She said 86 of the state’s 88 counties now had at least one confirmed case and 46 counties have reported at least one death.

Acton said the overall trend has shown a flattening.

“The good news is we’re staying flat,” Acton said. “We seem to be having a very flat, steady peak. The five-day trend is staying very steady.”

But Acton said the situation was still an emergency.

“It is still tough out there,” she said. “Especially our congregate settings, such as nursing homes and prisons. This is very contagious and deadly and spreads quickly in those settings.”

DeWine said the state saw its first death from coronavirus in the prison population over the weekend, an inmate in Pickaway Correctional Institution.

“This inmate was suffering long-term, chronic illness and passed away over the weekend,” he said. “The test result came in Monday positive for COVID-19.”

DeWine said the Ohio National Guard is still assisting at state prisons, performing duties such as providing triage support, taking temperatures and helping with non-COVID-19 cases.

Another change announced Monday was that DeWine is barring sales of liquor in counties bordering Pennsylvania to non-Ohio residents.

The governor said that, as Pennsylvania and some counties in West Virginia had closed liquor stores, these border counties, Ashtabula, Trumbull, Mahoning, Columbiana, Jefferson and Belmont, had seen an influx in out-of-state travelers purchasing alcohol.

“Any other time, we’d love to have visitors from Pennsylvania,” DeWine said. “But those coming in from Pennsylvania to buy liquor are creating a health hazard.”

DeWine said he had received repeated complaints from chiefs of police about the situation and that, in addition to an ID, proof of residency must be shown to purchase alcohol in those counties.

“This is something we will continue to monitor, he said. “If additional counties appear to have a significant influx from out of state, we will take whatever appropriate action is needed.”

The governor also thanked the Ohio General Assembly for approving funds on Monday for hospitals in the state.

“This is $8.8M for bailout of hospital capacity,” he said. “This is down from what we thought it was going to be — about a third of what we thought it was going to be. We’re very happy about that.”

DeWine said the funds would be used to purchase ventilators and masks and would be in addition to federal money received.

He said the Ohio Department of Health is also approved for state funds for testing supplies and additional funding would go toward the Ohio Department of Safety.