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Ohio Starts Testing For Coronavirus, But Resources Are Limited

Ohio Department of Health conducting tests for COVID-19 with new testing equipment.
Ohio Department of Health
Ohio Department of Health conducting tests for COVID-19 with new testing equipment.

Ohio now has the ability to conduct tests for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Due to limited resources, though, the state has created a protocol to determine who to prioritize for testing.

Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton said the state will prioritize the most vulnerable people for COVID-19 testing, including the elderly, people with a pre-existing condition and health care workers.

Acton says the state wants to be as transparent as possible with their testing protocols.

"People are confused, and in order for us to address this as a state we really need to get the best information out there," says Acton.

The next level of testing is for people who are displaying coronavirus symptoms, hospitalized with a fever and who either come into close contact with someone confirmed with having COVID-19, recently traveled to an affected area, or lacks another diagnosis.

The final route is for a test to be ordered by a primary care physician.

"As the COVID-19 situation evolves, the Ohio Department of Health, working in conjunction with hospitals, primary care providers, and other health care experts, has a plan to maximize our testing resources," said Gov. Mike DeWine. "We are prioritizing the patients who are the most vulnerable to be tested in the Department of Health’s State Laboratory, while ensuring those that need COVID-19 testing will be able to be tested."

There are also two private labs that will be able to conduct tests starting Monday.

As of Monday afternoon, the state did not have any confirmed cases of COVID-19and said it had eight people under investigation for coronavirus with tests pending. There have been 11 coronavirus tests completed, all of whom tested negative for COVID-19.

The Ohio Department of Health makes the following recommendations to protect yourself from illness:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; dry hands with a clean towel or air dry hands. 
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are unavailable. 
  • Cover your mouth with a tissue or sleeve when sneezing or coughing. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands. 
  • Stay home when you are sick. 
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.

Ohio's coronavirus call center is open to answer questions from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. The hotline number is 1-833-4-ASK-ODH or 1-833-427-5634.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.