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Coronavirus In Ohio: State Creating System To Track Spread When Businesses Reopen

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine
Office of Gov. Mike DeWine

State officials are warning residents that the process of loosening stay-at-home restrictions will be slow and gradual. And when businesses do start to reopen, the state hopes to have a system in place to track the possible spread of coronavirus.

Dr. Amy Acton, Ohio Department of Health director, says a major part of Ohio's plan is to create infrastructure for the state to track potential cases of COVID-19.

She says this includes expanded testing and reporting which flows to Ohio's Emergency Operations Center where workers will be monitoring the data to identify possible hot spots.

"We want to pick up the second there's a flare somewhere whether it's a nursing home or a prison or in a neighborhood or in a workplace and we want to be able to respond and put all our resources in the right place at the right time," Acton says.

Acton said the state is still working on this system and that more details are expected soon. She added that scientists are conducting studies on how administering about 1,000 tests randomly in certain areas could help identify immunity rates.

"I want people to feel confident that we here in Ohio are on the cutting edge are at the cutting edge of every one of these discussions and we won't let up," Acton says.

Gov. Mike DeWine is strongly emphasizing that when the state does begin reopening businesses, there will be a new normal where employees will likely be expected to wear masks and cleaning regimens will be high.

A part of the new expectations includes making sure workplaces are disinfected. But stores are quickly running out of stock on disinfectant and other cleaning supplies.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted says this is why businesses should start planning for new protocols now, and find sources for cleaning supplies. Husted says the availability of these products play a role in reopening the state.

"In being able to determine when that rollback can occur, because you have to make sure that adequate supplies are available particularly for the most vulnerable workplace settings," Husted says.

DeWine says making sure masks, hand sanitizer and other disinfectant supplies are available could end up being a collaboration between the public and private sectors.

"Every company's got to figure out 'what do I need.' But there are common things that we know have to be there. Basic things like the masks that certainly can and are being produced and hand sanitizer. Some of the other things are unique that particular business," DeWine says.

He adds that another way to make sure businesses stay safe when they reopen is to ramp up testing. The state has said it's working on ways to increase testing capability, such as manufacturing more swabs and purchasing more machines.

Do you have questions about Ohio's response to the coronavirus? Ask below as part of our Curious Cbus series.


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.