×

Ohio to test all staff members in state's nursing homes

FILE - In this Jan. 14, 2019, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine speaks during a public inauguration ceremony at the Ohio Statehouse, in Columbus, Ohio. DeWine is expected to push for an increase in Ohio’s gas tax and promote efforts to fight the opioid epidemic Tuesday, March 5 in his first State of the State speech as governor. The Republican is also expected to highlight programs he’s advocated to improve the lives of children. DeWine is bringing the event back to Columbus following the decision by his predecessor, Gov. John Kasich, to hold seven of eight speeches in cities around Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, Pool, File)

By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS Associated Press

COLUMBUS (AP) — All staff members in the state’s nursing homes will be tested for the coronavirus, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine said Tuesday, announcing a ramped-up effort in Ohio’s hard-hit long-term care facilities.

The governor said testing will also be done on residents who are most likely to have been exposed. Testing by 14 teams of medically trained National Guard members will begin this week.

Testing of staff “will help nursing home administrators understand the status of the virus in their facilities and will help isolate the virus and help keep it from infecting their community,” DeWine said. Ohio has more than 900 nursing homes.

Such widespread testing wasn’t possible before now because the testing capacity hadn’t been available, the governor said. Health Department data shows that about seven of every 10 coronavirus deaths in Ohio were among nursing home residents.

Meanwhile, gyms, motor vehicle bureaus and pools were among the next groups of businesses and activities reopening Tuesday after stay-at-home orders shuttered them to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Across the state, long lines formed outside reopened Bureau of Motor Vehicle offices, including dozens in the Cleveland area, according to WEWS-TV.

Republican Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, who is spearheading many reopening plans, has recommended people wait if possible since expired licenses are valid 90 days after Ohio’s state of emergency ends or Dec. 1, whichever comes first.

In other coronavirus-related news Tuesday:

CASES:

The number of confirmed and probable deaths associated with the coronavirus in Ohio has exceeded 2,000.

The Ohio Department of Health said Tuesday there have been 2,002 coronavirus-related deaths, an increase of 15 reported in the previous 24 hours.

The state health department also reported 33,006 confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases in Ohio, an increase of 529 cases over 24 hours.

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

___

PRISONS

The U.S. Supreme Court denied the government’s request to delay a judge’s April order that the Bureau of Prisons speed up the release of more than 800 medically vulnerable inmates at a federal prison in Elkton in eastern Ohio. More than 200 Elkton inmates and 7 guards have tested positive, and nine inmates have died.

___

MASKS

DeWine acknowledged that he may have misspoken on “Meet the Press” Sunday when he said 90% of people were wearing masks in a lot of Ohio stores. While acknowledging the figure was lower, the governor reiterated the importance of wearing masks and predicted most Ohioans would comply down the road. Wearing masks is not a liberal or conservative issue, but a way that Ohioans can use one more layer of protection to keep others safe, the governor said.

“It’s as old as the Scriptures–love your neighbor,” DeWine said. “I don’t know any other way to express it.”

___

E-CHECK

E-Check auto emissions testing stations reopened Tuesday in the seven-county Cleveland-Akron metro area. Customers are urged to travel to E-Check stations alone and to wear a face covering. The six-month extension for all motorists whose renewals were due between Feb. 1 and June 30 remains in effect.

___

Associated Press Writer Julie Carr Smyth in Columbus contributed to this report.