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Ohio governor announces easing up of elective surgery ban

By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Wednesday announced an easing up on the prohibition of elective surgeries during the coronavirus pandemic.

DeWine said that doctors can now review postponed procedures and surgeries with patients in terms of their current health situation and quality of life, after which doctors and patients can make a joint decision about whether to proceed.

DeWine said patients must be informed of the risk of contracting COVID-19, and must also be told of the impact of contracting the illness during the post-operative recovery process.

“I’ve heard stories that some surgeries that we had no intention of stopping have been postponed,” DeWine said. “That has concerned me a great deal, so we are starting back one step at a time.”

The governor gave the example of someone who might have postponed hip replacement surgery but now is experiencing severe pain.

Other coronavirus-related developments in Ohio on Wednesday:

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PRISONS

State inmates continue to account for more than one in four positive tests statewide thanks to facility-wide testing at three prisons. More than 2,000 inmates at Marion Correctional Institution out of about 2,500 have tested positive to date, while more than 1,500 of about 2,000 have tested positive at Pickaway Correctional Institution. One Marion guard has died, along with 12 inmates, including eight at Pickaway.

Inmates complain they aren’t being told their test results and have limited masks and supplies of soap. Prison guards, who are also seeing high infection rates, say they’re being forced to return to work quickly after recovery and are working 16-hour shifts because of the short staffing.

DeWine announced the first positive test of a youth in the state juvenile detention system.

In Cleveland, a federal judge ordered officials at a federal prison in Elkton in eastern Ohio to immediately evaluate what medically vulnerable inmates could be transferred out. Fifty-two inmates and 48 staff members have tested positive, and six inmates have died.

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CASES

More than 14,000 cases of the virus have been reported statewide, including 610 deaths and 2,800 hospitalizations, according to figures released Wednesday.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

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ECONOMY

Multiple business owners have told the legislative House 2020 Economic Recovery Task Force that restrictions on business operations should be lifted as soon as possible, Gongwer News Service reported. A phased reopening will limit employees’ willingness to return if their wages won’t match unemployment, business owners say.

University Hospitals in Cleveland announced it’s reducing hours and pay by 20% for about 4,100 caregivers not directly involved in patient care because of the financial impact of the pandemic as elective surgeries are prohibited. The hospital system said that executives, directors, nonclinical managers, department chairs and division chiefs will have their pay reduced while continuing to work regular schedules.

Ohio has seen a 172% increase in the number of SNAP, or food stamp, applications filed by Ohioans this year compared to last year, said Kimberly Hall, director of the Department of Job and Family Services. That’s a jump from 10,784 during the second week of April 2019 compared to 29,334 this year.

Since the pandemic led to a widespread economic downtown, Ohio has paid $858 million to about 349,000 people with claims, Hall said.

Ohio Humanities announced it’s providing $750,000 in emergency federal relief grants to historical societies, museums, and other cultural organizations affected by the pandemic.

Ohio Agriculture Director Dorothy Pelanda on Tuesday waived a required $50,000 local match for county fairs to obtain $50,000 in state grants for facility and grounds improvements.

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THE NEW NORMAL

The Dayton air show, scheduled for June 27-28, became the state’s latest high-profile event to cancel, citing the pandemic, the Dayton Daily News reported.