Health & Science

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empty street
JENNIFER CONN / WKSU

Americans are adjusting to life without social interaction. It’s been more than two weeks since bars, restaurants and schools closed in Ohio.

We still don't know how long it will be before nonessential businesses reopen and residents can travel freely. 

President Donald Trump recently extended his stay-at-home recommendations through the end of April.

Backers of a planned fall ballot issue seeking to raise the minimum wage in Ohio to $13 by 2025 have filed a lawsuit, saying Gov. Mike DeWine’s coronavirus restrictions have halted their effort.  The group says it wants more time and lowered requirements.

To decrease the spread of COVID-19, doctors’ offices are opting for telemedicine appointments instead of in-person visits.

That’s leading to financial struggles for federally qualified health centers.

“The decrease in face-to-face visits is going to have a detrimental impact on community health centers across the state,” said Jean Polster, CEO of Neighborhood Family Practice, a community health center in Cleveland.

More than a week ago, the state Board of Pharmacy created new limitations for prescribing drugs commonly used to treat lupus, malaria and autoimmune diseases. Now, Ohio’s Attorney General says there is evidence some doctors might be hoarding them and potentially selling them as coronavirus therapies. 

slide of social distancing illustration
OHIO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

The Ohio EPA has signed an order that prohibits water shutoffs across the state during the coronavirus pandemic.  "This will help us assure that as many people as possible have safe water during the state of emergency," DeWine said. The order will also allow residents to have water services reinstated if they've had it shut off since Jan. 1, 2020. Ohioans will have to reach out their providers to get their water turned back on. 

Updated at 7:40 p.m. ET

America must brace for 100,000 or more people to die in the coming months in the coronavirus pandemic, the White House's response team warned Tuesday.

"As sobering a number as that is, we should be prepared for it," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top immunologist helping to steer White House policy on the disaster. "No one is denying the fact that we are going through a very, very difficult time right now."

A federal judge has temporarily blocked Ohio from banning surgical abortions as part of state restrictions on non-essential procedures during the coronavirus pandemic.

photo of Corey Cargill
COREY CARGILL

The nation’s shortage of masks for health care workers could be alleviated by the efforts of Gov. Mike DeWine, volunteers organizing online, and two Ohio companies.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and some Ohio attorneys have filed an emergency lawsuit against the state.

The Ohio National Guard is working with public health leaders all around the state in what they say is a coordinated effort to prepare for the peak of the coronavirus.

Janitors Gear Up, Spread Out In Fight Against Coronavirus

Mar 30, 2020

Earlier this year, as health officials began tallying coronavirus cases across the United States, Janitorial Services Inc. in Cleveland was stocking up on hospital-grade disinfectant.

“I bought about a year’s worth in a month and a half,” owner Ronald Martinez told ideastream. “And believe it or not, we’re probably down to 20 percent of what I bought, because we’ve been putting it out in the buildings, even though it’s not part of their normal daily disinfecting.”

GOV. MIKE DEWINE TWITTER / OHIO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

Gov. Mike DeWine and Dr. Amy Acton from the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) will sign an order Monday suspending in-person classes for K-12 schools until May 1. 

A few weeks ago, DeWine suspended those classes for three weeks, but because of the surge of COVID-19 cases, they decided to extend the order.

There are now 1,933 cases in Ohio and 39 deaths have been confirmed across 19 counties. "We still see that our peak is going to be, we're thinking, in a couple of weeks," Acton said. 

The Food and Drug Administration has given the go-ahead to Columbus-based Battelle for its full request to sterilize 80,000 N-95 surgical masks per machine per day, after issuing a letter earlier in the day permitting far less. And it comes after pressure from Ohio officials.

dr brian harte
JEFF ST.CLAIR / WKSU

New models show a wave of coronavirus cases could be headed our way in Northeast Ohio.

The Cleveland Clinic’s latest estimates show the outbreak will peak in early May and could cause up to 10,000 new COVID-19 cases per day.

It’s a sobering picture, but our local hospitals are gearing up for the surge.

photo of CDC recommendations for parks
CLEVELAND METROPARKS

The effects of the coronavirus are being felt everywhere from our region's parks to small businesses. This week we're answering listener questions on a range of topics being impacted by the virus.

Even before Gov. Mike DeWine ordered nonessential businesses to close, we started getting emails from people who felt they were being forced to work when they should have been staying home, or working from home.

Food stamp recipients in Ohio won’t need to worry about renewals for their benefits — at least not for the next few months.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture this week issued a waiver to the state allowing an extension for select benefit recertifications and renewals.

Any Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients whose benefits are set to expire in March, April or May of 2020 won’t need to seek recertification until six months later.

Medicaid renewals are also suspended for 180 days. Recipients won’t lose coverage during that time.

Medical personal protective equipment (PPE) is in short supply nationwide due to a surge of COVID-19 patients. Companies have shifted production to make equipment for the crisis, and individuals are stepping up to sew homemade masks.

One community highly equipped to help meet this need is the Amish.

Updated 8:13 p.m. ET

President Trump said on Sunday that federal guidelines urging Americans to social distance to slow the spread of the coronavirus will remain in place for another month and could last until June.

Under the recommendations, the Trump administration is imploring people to avoid restaurants, bars and other situations involving more than 10 people and restrict traveling to trips deemed essential.

a photo of briefing
THE OHIO CHANNEL

Emphatically tapping the podium, Governor Mike DeWine said sometimes "you just have to rattle it." He was referring to the bureaucracy that appears to have been holding up FDA approval of a new process developed by Columbus-based Battelle Labs. The process uses vaporized hydrogen peroxide in a pressured environment to clean N95 masks for healthcare personnel. 

Updated, March 29, 10:00 p.m.

Several large metal shipping containers are lined up in a warehouse on Columbus’ West Side under a large American Flag. Their doors are ajar, and workers stream in and out, power tools buzzing.

a photo of a chart.
THE OHIO CHANNEL

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine held up a cardboard chart during his briefing Saturday. The low-tech visual, he said, was due to an illness among the behind-the-scenes crew that allows the daily briefing to be televised. DeWine said they were relieved to learn that the individual, hospitalized with pneumonia, tested negative for COVID-19. 

photo of prison bars
WIKIMEDIA

Four of 17 Ohio prison inmates from five facilities are in isolation pending results of COVID-19 tests. Thirteen of the 17 tested had negative results. The state plans to provide a daily update on testing in prisons and youth facilities.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio had asked for those daily numbers. Spokesman Gary Daniels says many people in overcrowded jails and prisons are vulnerable.

JENNIFER CONN / WKSU

For the first time in history, people across the country have been directed to stay home.

Schools and daycares have closed. Bars and resturants are shuttered.

Elder care facilities are in lockdown. Businesses have closed their doors to all but the most essential workers.

Groups cannot gather outside homes, and everyone is expected to stay six feet apart.

With a 30 percent increase in confirmed coronavirus cases in 24 hours and a new total of 19 deaths, new projections on the spread of coronavirus in Ohio suggest the state could be seeing 10,000 cases a day by the time it peaks.

The more than 10,000 people in Ohio identified as homeless are already at a higher risk for catching communicable diseases but the coronavirus pandemic is making matters worse. 

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