COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine held another 2 p.m. press conference on Friday, only this time, it wasn't from the state's capital.
On Thursday, the governor was set to meet the president as he arrived in Cleveland. However, a rapid test turned up a positive result for COVID-19, sending DeWine back to his home. Shortly after, DeWine, his wife Fran, and members of his staff all took PCR tests, which came back negative later that day.
Friday's conference took place from the governor's residence in Cedarville as a precaution. He is set to have another test on Saturday for assurance.
As of Friday, there have been 1,204 new cases of coronavirus, which is right around the 21-day average of 1,257.
In the last 24-hour period, there were 34 new deaths, which is a bit higher than the average of 26.
Hospitalizations are down for the first time in a few days at 81 in the last 24 hours, compared to the 21-day average of
PUBLIC HEALTH ADVISORY MAP
The number of counties in the Level 3 (Red) category continue to drop, with only 11 remaining. Locally, this includes Lucas and Erie.
Henry had been in the red, but dropped back down into the orange this week.
DeWine ranked all 88 counties in order of those with the most cases per 100,000 people to the least. Lucas County came in at number two, behind only Mercer County.
Locally, Wyandot, Erie and Hancock were all in the top ten. However, there is a bit of good news for Wood County, as it had initially been higher on that list, but has since dropped out of the top ten range.
However, concerns are growing about the situation in rural areas. Many of the counties high on the list are smaller counties. But, DeWine said this concern isn't unique to Ohio. This is a trend that is being seen throughout the country.
DeWine acknowledged that many of these areas plan to return in person, how long they stay in school will be determined by how proactive each community is, specifically in terms of masks.
The governor called it a battle, but said that it all comes back to the basics: distance, masks and handwashing.
DeWine said that case numbers continue to be elevated in Erie. While the county initially had a spike due to outbreaks at Put-in-Bay, he said spread continues to be spread throughout the community.
Several outbreaks in the county contributed to its high case numbers, DeWine said Friday. These outbreaks were at a local university - though he didn't specify which, a daycare center and an outing where people were camping.
He said the county's numbers remain high, at 189 per 100,000 people.
PCR VS. ANTIGEN TESTS
In Cleveland, DeWine was given an antigen test, which came back positive. DeWine was later given a PCR test, which came back negative.
Due to the confusion surrounding the difference in results, DeWine had Dr. Peter Mohler with the Wexler Center attend Friday's presser to break down the differences between the two.
When we think about testing that we typically do across Ohio, that is called PCR testing.
A PCR test looks at the genetic makeup of the virus and amplifies it, making it very sensitive, Mohler said. He compared this type of testing to a high-powered telescope.
- Detects very low viral loads in people who may be either symptomatic and asymptomatic
- The ability to look at the information over time
- It's hard to scale
- It takes a certain type of person to run the tests; it takes someone with specialized training.
However, he said when we get a result from the PCR test, we get a very good impression of what's happening at that level.
PCR testing as a practice as been around for 20-30 years. Mohler said it is nearly 100% in terms of accuracy.
An antigen test doesn't look at the genetic material, rather it looks at the protein on the surface of the virus, making it less sensitive than the PCR test, Mohler said.
Mohler said this is what may cause false positives and false negatives, comparing it instead to looking at things through a pair of binoculars.
"Like binoculars, you're going to miss some stars. But the good thing is, you're going to be able to have lots of these across the field," he said.
He said the key point of these tests is that you get results within 15 minutes, which is great for epidemiologists because they can get a jump start on contact tracing, putting individuals into quarantine and making critical decisions about healthcare.
"With all of these tests though, it's important to understand there are strengths and limitations," Mohler said.
IN the case of antigen testing, which is a newer type of testing in the state, before it was rolled out into state labs, health leaders would make sure they deeply understood the advantages and disadvantages.
When it comes to PCR testing, it's been used a lot so they know a lot about its strengths and weaknesses. However, with antigen testing, there are still things they are working to learn.
Mohler said the "gold standard" is the PCR test in terms of accuracy. Well over 90% of the people tested in Ohio have used the PCR tests. Mohler called it the "best and most accurate test in the world."
Next, in terms of accuracy, is a point of care test. This is another type of "rapid test" and it looks at the genetic material of the virus, much like the PCR test.
The antigen test ranks third in terms of accuracy, Mohler said.
DeWine remained adamant that Ohioans can be confident in the data presented daily by the health department as it is predominantly the result of the PCR tests.
DeWine said that announcements are on the way next week about sports of all levels: professional, collegiate and high school.
He said that he believes schools are doing everything they can to keep students safe, no matter their interests. However, he noted school officials have voiced concerns about what students are doing outside of school.
DeWine expressed grave concern about the safety for those who are most vulnerable as schools open back up. He urged schools to help keep safe any faculty members who may be in a high-risk category.
On Tuesday, there were 1,143 new cases of coronavirus since Monday, which is short of the 21-day average of 1,291.
Coronavirus-related deaths are unfortunately up, however. Between Monday and Tuesday, there were 31 deaths reported, higher than the 21-day average of 24.
Both hospitalizations and ICU admissions are up as well, with 127 and 23 respectively. The 21-day average for those metrics are 99 and 18.
For more information on the current trends documented by the Ohio Department of Health, click here.
An update on the state's Public Health Advisory map will be announced on Thursday.
MASKS FOR K-12 STUDENTS
DeWine noted that schools and parents are continuing to make decisions about heading back in the fall. He acknowledged the frustration felt by many Ohioans due to the uncertainty that lies ahead.
"I certainly share that frustration. None of us has a crystal ball. None of us can tell what will happen when we go back in the fall," he said.
Each district faces a different reality, he said, because each district is in a different place; in terms of location and the effects of the virus.
DeWine said there are two variables: what the community spread is and what goes on within the school, calling on leaders to assess the situation in their areas.
"The amount of community spread in each county will determine what the school year looks like. We can impact what the future will bring," he said.
When looking at a ranking of cases per 100,000 people, Lucas County ranked at number two, behind only Mercer County. Wyandot follows Lucas at number three, with Hancock, Ottawa and Wood all in the top ten.
DeWine said the goal is to provide a safe environment for both students and faculty. Doctors now advise that children K-12 should wear a mask, he said, citing a letter issued jointly from the Ohio Children's Hospital Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
At Tuesday's conference, he issued an order requiring K-12 students who are returning to school to wear a mask or face covering.
The order allows the following exemptions:
- Children under 2 years old
- Any child unable to remove the covering without assistance
- Any child with significant behavioral/psychological undergoing treatment that is exacerbated specifically by the use of a face covering (i.e. severe anxiety or tactile aversion)
- A child living with severe autism or with severe developmental delay who may become agitated or anxious while wearing a mask.
- A child with a facial deformity that causes airway obstruction
Lt. Governor Jon Husted acknowledged confusing surrounding school contact sports.
On June 22, the state allowed contact sports like football to resume practice. On July 4, a temporary order was issued allowing a return to contact-sport competitions under strict guidelines. That temporary order was renewed last week by Director Himes.
"There has been some confusion that the renewal of this order represents the plan for return to competition for schools this fall. That is not the case," Husted said.
Husted said that he and DeWine are still working with the Ohio High School Athletic Association to finalize that plan and are still considering options that accommodate both health and practical considerations for athletes, coaches and fans.
Also of note, DeWine said, his administration has received plans from and had phone calls with the Browns and Bengals to discuss their plans for a return to play. While both teams are likely able to return to competition, plans are also being reviewed as they relate to safely accommodating fans.
DeWine said that there continues to be a problem with spread at small, informal gatherings.
"We all have to remember that just because it is your family or your friends, they could still be carrying the virus and not know it," he said in a tweet.
While, maintaining social distance and not gathering together might feel like you are not being friendly, DeWine claimed that it’s really a sign of friendship and love, as it demonstrates that you want to protect them from getting sick.
On Tuesday, DeWine said he would be sending a letter to Ohio’s faith-based community to share important health information with the state's churches, synagogues, and mosques and to share ways to better protect their worshipers.
The above image shown by DeWine at Tuesday's presser demonstrates the spread of the virus to at least 91 different people resulting from just one person with COVID-19 attending a church service.
"It spread like wildfire," the governor said.
DeWine said that religious faiths are at the core of both the state and the country and thanked faith-based leaders for all that they do. However, he made clear he believes that it is vital to control the spread of the virus, including at religious services, that everyone wear masks, practice social distancing, wash hands, and while indoors, making sure there is good ventilation and airflow.
DeWine announced Tuesday a new, multi-state purchasing agreement with Maryland, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan and Virginia to expand the use of rapid point-of-care tests.
DeWine said he believes this will help detect outbreaks sooner with faster turnaround time, expand testing in congregate settings, and make testing more accessible for the most high-risk and hard-hit communities.
"Scaling up the use of these rapid point-of-care tests will serve as an important screening tool and critical addition to our plan to limit the spread of COVID-19," he said in a tweet.
DR. AMY ACTON
DeWine provided an update on the former Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton on Tuesday.
According to DeWine, Acton has decided to leave state employment and return to the Columbus Foundation, where she worked before taking on her role at ODH.
"While it saddens me that she will be leaving my office, she has assured me that she is just a phone call away and will be available to continuing advising us as we move through this pandemic," DeWine said.
ANNIVERSARY OF DAYTON SHOOTING
DeWine took a moment of silence during Tuesday's briefing in honor of the nine lives lost during a mass shooting in Dayton one year ago.
"The emotions tied to this day are for many, including me, still very raw. As long as I live, I’ll never forget visiting the Oregon District that day and seeing the blood on the street. I’ll never forget the funerals and the absolute grief in the eyes of family members," DeWine said in a tweet Tuesday.
He said that he and his wife Fran hold the Miami Valley close to their hearts. When the massacre happened, it had only been around two months since devastating tornadoes swept through the area.
"But the Miami Valley is tough and resilient. The Gem City shines bright," DeWine said.
DeWine noted the calls of protesters in the aftermath, calling on him to "do something." He said their anger was justified and their message was heard.
He said that his team has enhanced safety resources for Ohio schools and invested in mental health and behavioral health services, they offered grants to make churches safer and funding to help law enforcement extradite dangerous criminals and claimed the work of the Warrant Task Force led to a 903% increase in Ohio arrest warrants entered into the national warrant database since March 2019. According to the governor, this significantly increases the likelihood that if someone with a warrant tries to purchase a gun, the sale will be stopped.
DeWine said laws in the state remain the same and called on the Ohio Assembly to advance the "Strong Ohio" bill.
In October, DeWine's administration unveiled the bill, which he calls "a reasonable and aggressive package of legislation designed to protect citizens from gun violence while also protecting the rights of Ohio’s law-abiding citizens."
"Doing nothing is simply not an option," he said.
You can read the bill by clicking here.
We will continue to keep you updated with the latest information.