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Ohio leaders praise preventative actions against virus

COLUMBUS — While the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio grows greatly daily, Dr. Amy Acton said it would be significantly more if the state hadn’t taken key steps to slow its spread.

“In the worst-case scenario, if we had done nothing, the estimate is there would be 6,000 new cases a day,” Acton, director of the Ohio Department of Health, said Tuesday.

Hospitals are at 60 percent capacity. She said she expects hotels and dormitory rooms eventually to be turned into hospital units.

Acton praised people for staying at home, which is helping to stop the spread of the virus.

“What you are doing is making all the difference,” she said.

The state had 564 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Tuesday afternoon, Acton said.

That’s up from 442 cases Monday. Last Tuesday, only 67 cases of the virus were confirmed in Ohio.

Eight were dead as of Tuesday, up from six Monday.

Two of the dead are in Cuyahoga County, two in Franklin, and one each in Erie, Gallia, Lucas and Stark counties.

VALLEY CASES

Twenty-eight COVID-19 cases were confirmed Tuesday in Mahoning County compared to 23 a day earlier. Just four cases were reported in the county a week ago.

Trumbull County has four cases Tuesday, up by one since Monday, and four in Columbiana County Tuesday, two more than Monday.

Also, statewide, 145 people were hospitalized Tuesday. The number was 104 Monday.

Of those diagnosed in Ohio with the virus, 62 were in intensive-care units Tuesday — about 10 percent of all cases. And 91 confirmed cases are health-care workers, 16.1 percent of all cases.

Gov. Mike DeWine said he understands his orders to restrict numerous Ohioans from working is damaging the economy, but it will save lives in the long term.

“The truth is, protecting people and protecting the economy are not mutually exclusive,” he said. “In fact, one depends on the other.”

Those orders include closing nonessential businesses and ordering the public to stay at home through April 6 with exemptions.

“Every single day I think about those of you who are unemployed,” DeWine said. “I think about the small businesses. I know that each day that goes by that you don’t have income is very, very tough, and I fully understand that.”

He added: “When people are dying and people don’t feel safe, the economy is not going to come back. We have to flatten the curve so that when the wave comes, it’s not as big as it would have been, and we are prepared for it.”

The country is “going to get our economy back, but we have to get through it, protect as many lives as we can and then move forward,” DeWine said. “I’m looking forward to that day, but it’s not yet here.”

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said the state stopped releasing daily unemployment figures at the request of the federal government. But, he said, weekly unemployment rates will be provided on Thursdays.

DeWine didn’t issue any new orders Tuesday.

The stay-at-home order began at 11:59 p.m. Monday.

“I think the compliance rate is pretty good,” he said, adding that it just started.

“It’s a work in progress,” DeWine added.

NEED FOR PPE

DeWine also said the state is trying to get personal protective equipment (PPE) — which includes masks, gloves, gowns, face shields and goggles — to first responders, but these are hard to obtain.

The governor said he’s asked dentists and veterinarians to conserve their supplies. He’s also asked those in private businesses who use them, such as those in the construction industry, to share them.

He said on average over a 24-hour period, 36 pairs of gloves are used to care for a single patient in intensive care.

“This is why we have ordered nonessential or elective surgeries to be postponed,” DeWine said.

Also Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced more than $3.2 million to 51 Ohio community health centers to help keep residents safe during the pandemic.

The only Valley facility to receive funding was ONE Health Ohio, headquartered in Youngstown, which will get $67,071. The agency provides primary medical, dental and behavioral health services at eight centers in Mahoning, Trumbull and Stark counties.

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