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Coronavirus In Ohio: Senior Centers, Adult Day Services Can Reopen In September

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine gives a press conference from his home in Cedarville.
Office of Gov. Mike DeWine
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine gives a press conference from his home in Cedarville.

Gov. Mike DeWine on Thurday set a reopening date of senior centers and adult day centers for September 21 and laid out several measures the facilities will have to follow.

DeWine says centers that choose to reopen must following certain capacity limitations, health screenings and face masks. He says there are still other factors to determine if those facilities will be able to open a month from now, but wanted to give organizations time to prepare.

"It's our goal to open on that date, to allow everybody to open, but to continue to monitor the facts or continue to frankly see how far along we are in very aggressive testing at that point," DeWine says.

Adult day care facilities and senior centers have been closed since March 23.

DeWine says facilities should take into account its county's risk advisory level and other COVID-19 statistics before reopening.

“We can do two things at once. We can be safe. We can be protective,” DeWine said. “But we can try to get back to normal and so it's important to do it.”

Reopening facilities are required to:

  • Open with a limited capacity based on safe social distancing.
  • Limit entry to the facility to those who are necessary for the safe operation of the program.
  • Screen all participants and staff and keep a daily log.
  • Conduct baseline and repeat testing of staff and participants.
  • Require all staff and participants to wear face coverings with limited exceptions.
  • Use cohorting of participants when possible and alter schedules to reduce contact.
  • Implement CDC guidance for cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing.

DeWine on Thursday also issued an order requiring all assisted living facilities to participate in COVID-19 testing for staff and residents. The statewide testing initiative is already underway, he said.
Baseline saliva testing will be offered to all assisted living staff and residents at no cost to facilities. The tests can be self-performed and can provide results within 48 hours of being received by the lab, DeWine said.

“Our focus has been and remains protecting Ohioans while navigating this pandemic,” DeWine said. “To achieve this, we must have 100% participation of all assisted living facilities in Ohio.”

As of Thursday, Ohio has reported 112,003 cumulative COVID-19 cases and 3,929 deaths. The state saw an increase of 1,122 COVID-19 cases and 22 deaths in the last 24 hours.

DeWine noted that some of the counties with the highest occurrence of COVID-19 in the last 14 days are Ohio’s more rural counties, including Mercer, Darke, Laurence and Preble counties.

“What has happened is we've seen the urban areas, that a bigger percentage of people are wearing masks for a longer period of time and we've seen those numbers come down,” DeWine said. “Unfortunately, we're seeing the numbers go up in our rural areas.”

Under the state's Public Health Advisory System, Clark, Lorain, Preble and Trumbull counties have moved from level two "orange" to level three "red" public emergencies. A total of nine counties are now at the red level, the lowest number since the alert system began.

Seven counties dropped from red to orange, including Montgomery and Cuyahoga counties, which have been red every week since the advisory system was enacted. Six additional counties dropped from orange to yellow.

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.