Today's COVID-19 Report: New Case in Northeast Ohio, DeWine Limits NF Visits
Today's COVID-19 Report:
New Case in Northeast Ohio, DeWine Limits NF Visits
Community Spread - New Case in Canton
Governor DeWine held a press conference today at 2 pm where he announced that another patient has tested positive for COVID-19, the coronavirus. The male patient is in his mid-50s and is being treated at Mercy Medical Center in Canton. It is not known how the patient contracted the coronavirus and, therefore, Dr. Amy Acton, Director of the Ohio Department of Health, explained that this is the first of ‘community spread’, an important change in the Ohio situation.
Dr. Acton reported that there are 24 additional persons under investigation and 21 who have tested negative for COVID-19 in Ohio. Ohio officials expect to see the cases grow and expect to see more proof of community spread. According to Dr. Acton, once two cases are found to be community spread, statistically, it is estimated that 1% of Ohioans are likely positive for COVID-19.
The governor cautioned that, despite appearances of life going on as usual, the situation should be taken seriously and Ohioans should make decisions in a way that respects the safety of neighbors, loved ones, and vulnerable Ohioans. “Act prudently,” said Governor DeWine; he urged prudent decision-making when engaging with others and particularly when considering whether to attend events where numbers of individuals may be in close proximity.
“If you were thinking of attending a large chicken dinner event this evening, I’d suggest you shouldn’t go.”
Governor DeWine Institutes Limits on Visits to Nursing Facilities, Assisted Living
At the press conference, Governor DeWine announced state-mandated limitations on visitors to Ohio nursing homes and assisted living facilities. An executive order has been signed to this effect.
As has been heavily covered, older Ohioans are those most vulnerable to the disease. Per Director Acton, among individuals aged 40-50, 1 in 250 infected will die of the disease. For those aged over 80, COVID-19 has a 15% mortality rate.
Governor DeWine and Director Acton announced that:
- Residents will be limited to one visitor per day;
- The visitor is required to undergo a basic health exam, including temperature testing; and
- Facilities will have to maintain a log of visitors.
It is unclear at this time whether hospice clinicians will be counted as visitors or as necessary health care providers under the executive order.
Governor DeWine also noted that as the pandemic worsens, the Administration may ban visitors to nursing homes altogether until the threat passes. As of now, the order only affects nursing facilities and assisted living providers.
Creating a policy to limit access for individuals with deliveries is important. Nursing homes should ask suppliers to deliver supplies to a designated location, such as loading dock, without entering the building as a policy to ensure vendors and suppliers are adhering to the governor's order.
These strong mandates come as providers around the state begin to enact new visitation limitations, per guidance from CMS and CDC, and other health authorities.
LeadingAge Ohio will continue to communicate more information about this topic as it becomes available.
Banning Mass Meetings
DeWine also stated that he is pursuing a ban on mass meetings in the State of Ohio. This would include professional sporting events, such as the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Cavaliers, and NCAA March Madness games in Cleveland, as well as smaller community events.
This order has not yet been signed but will be released in the coming days.
Providers in Ohio should consider this when holding faith services, game nights, communal dining, and other gatherings in which older adults congregate. Although engagement is critical for the health of older adults, avoiding crowds is a must for protecting the lives and safety of those whom we serve during this time.
Having activity directors and other staff work with residents on using video chat tools - like FaceTime, Skype, and more - can be a helpful substitute for family interaction during this difficult time.
LeadingAge Ohio Postponements
LeadingAge Ohio is reviewing all events scheduled through month’s end and is exploring ways in which events may be held digitally instead of in person.
The Northeast Ohio Leadership Forum, originally planned for March 26 at Jennings in Garfield, has been postponed. Additional postponements may be announced in the coming days, so keep an eye on your inboxes.
COVID-19 Hub and COVID19@leadingageohio.org
LeadingAge Ohio has created a dedicated email for COVID-19 questions, concerns, and guidance for all members and partners to use. Please send all emails related to COVID-19 to COVID19@leadingageohio.org.
As always, all LeadingAge Ohio staff are available by email and phone to answer your specific questions as well. Please continue to use our COVID-19 Resource Hub on the LeadingAge Ohio homepage at www.leadingageohio.org.
ODH has established a hotline open 7 days a week. The phone number is 833-4-ASK-ODH.
A chief concern among providers is supply chain issues, as LeadingAge Ohio is receiving early reports of aging services providers running out of personal protective equipment (PPE). Yesterday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released updated guidance on using respirators intended for use in non-healthcare settings as a substitute when standard PPE is unavailable.
Providers experiencing PPE shortages are also encouraged to limit interactions with patients to necessary staff. Guidance on containing PPE has also been released by CMS, and the World Health Organization has provided a resource on rational use of PPE for COVID-19 and community use of masks during a COVID-19 outbreak.
The first point of contact for any provider experiencing or anticipating PPE shortages is their local health department.
Please send all questions to COVID19@leadingageohio.org.