COLUMBUS — Gov. Mike DeWine has convened a group of health advisors as part of the state’s coronavirus response.
The group, which includes representatives from the Ohio Hospital Association, will advise the governor as the state prepares for the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.
There are no confirmed cases in Ohio, but one person remains under investigation, and seven people have tested negative, officials said. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are 80 cases in 13 states, and nine people have died from coronavirus, all in the state of Washington.
“As we learn more about COVID-19 and its spread in the United States, I am grateful for the expertise of these medical professionals who will help advise the state on strategies to deal with the disease and the best medical practices and procedures,” DeWine said in a news release.
There are more than 90,000 coronavirus cases worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In a news release, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) said, “Ohioans in general remain at low risk.”
“Ohio stands prepared, and we have taken a very aggressive approach to make sure we are ready if a case does happen in Ohio,” ODH Director Amy Acton said in a news release.
Officials have advised first responders across the state “to screen patients with flu-like symptoms for possible exposure to coronavirus,” state Rep. Scott Oelslager, R-North Canton, said in a legislative update. “Instructions from the state’s medical director recommends EMTs and paramedics wear protective equipment and clean their vehicles with bleach.”
Meanwhile, Democrats in the state House have used coronavirus to push for legislation creating a state-run paid family-leave-program. House Bill 91, sponsored by state Reps. Janine Boyd, D-Cleveland Heights, and Kristin Boggs, D-Columbus, would create the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program and require employers to deduct premiums from employee wages.
“While the CDC and many Ohio businesses are telling workers to stay home if they get sick, the reality is that for too many Ohioans, this means time off without pay – hurting family budgets and forcing people back into work before it’s safe, which could make a coronavirus outbreak even worse,” Boyd said in a news release.
Speaking with Maria Bartiromo on FOX Business last week, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, praised the state’s response and urged against using coronavirus to score political points.
“In the case of Ohio, our hospitals are doing what they should be doing, working together already,” Portman said. “But they are looking to [the] federal government for some help, best practices among other things, also just getting moving on the antiviral vaccine as quickly as possible is a federal role.
“So we ought to add all that up and make sure there is a basis for it but come up with the right number, and ensure that we are continuing to do everything to try to stop this,” Portman added. “I do think the administration has done a good job and again I think playing politics with it is (the) worst thing we could do.”
Todd DeFeo is a contributor to The Center SquareReach