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Coronavirus In Ohio: Nursing Homes Must Now Notify Family Members Of COVID-19 Cases

Gov. Mike DeWine gives his daily coronavirus briefing on April 1, 2020.
Office of Gov. Mike DeWine
Gov. Mike DeWine gives his daily coronavirus briefing on April 1, 2020.

Gov. Mike DeWine announced a new order Monday requiring long-term care facilities to notify families within 24 hours if a resident or staff member has tested positive for COVID-19. Although the Ohio Department of Health has encouraged facilities to do this in the past, it is now a requirement. 

Dr. Amy Acton, director of the Department of Health, said the state also plans to release a list of nursing homes with confirmed cases. But she warned Ohioans not to blame the nursing homes.

"It's not the fault of nursing homes," Acton said at the state's daily coronavirus press conference. "It is the fact that this disease is so contagious."

Acton said nursing homes are hotspots just like prisons and the state will continue to monitor the cases. 

Ohio officials also confirmed an inmate died from COVID-19 at Pickaway Correctional Institution — the first reported inmate death in the state. 

More than a dozen of Pickaway's staff members are out sick. Gov. Mike DeWine announced Monday he plans to send up to 30 members of the National Guard to the facility to help with COVID-19 patients. 

Out of the 435 inmates who have been tested, 119 have the disease. Nearly 17,000 inmates across the state are in quarantine, according to the Ohio Department of Health (ODH). 

Across the state, Ohio has reported 6,881 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 94 probable cases under a new definition from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The state has seen 268 confirmed deaths due to COVID-19, and six probable deaths.

Once again, the daily press conference was interrupted by the sound of protesters outside of the Ohio Statehouse. While DeWine and Acton broadcast from a room with soundproofing materials, activists could be heard chanting outside the atrium where reporters are situated.

Protesters have been criticizing the government's shutdown of businesses and closure of schools. Some held signs with messages including "Amy please leave," "The cure is worse than the virus" and "Open Ohio: We want our rights back."

Liquor Sales And Foodbanks

DeWine is also issuing an order restricting liquor sales in seven counties.

Those wanting to buy alcohol in those counties must have a valid Ohio driver's license, or other proof of residence in the state, such as a bill or a letter from an employer. DeWine said it's because many Pennsylvania residents are crossing the border to get alcohol.

More than 600 state-owned liquor stores in Pennsylvania were shut down last month due to coronavirus concerns. 

"This is something that we will continue to monitor," DeWine said. "If there are additional counties that have a significant number of people coming from out of state, we will take further action when necessary."

The counties affected include:

  • Ashtabula
  • Columbiana
  • Trumbull
  • Mahoning 
  • Columbiana
  • Jefferson
  • Belmont

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced that $5 million in emergency funding will be going to 12 Ohio foodbanks, which have seen high demand since the outbreak began.
An additional $1 million will go toward the Agricultural Clearance Program so the foodbanks can purchase Ohio-made products, such as milk. The Coalition on Homeless and Housing in Ohio will also receive $1 million to ensure safe, clean environments inside facilities. 

Despite cases increasing each day, Acton said the state isn't seeing as many as initially predicted. She said that social distancing is working, especially the use of masks. 

"Don your masks, and don your capes," Acton said.

She added that Ohioans could be using the masks for another year. 

Two weeks ago, health officials predicted a surge in cases starting around the end of April to mid-May, and said the state could be seeing 10,000 cases a day. 

Last week, that number dropped significantly to a predicted peak of 1,600 cases per day. Acton said the goal is to get that number even lower. 

"Everyone is all hands on deck, working as best as they can," Acton said. 


Lydia Taylor is a news intern for WKSU. She is a junior multimedia journalism major at Kent State University with experience in print and visual journalism. She is currently working towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Multimedia Journalism. During the school year, Taylor works for Kent State Student Media in The Kent Stater and KentWired. She is currently an assigning editor and a reporter in the Kent State University Student Media Newsroom for the spring semester.