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Health Director Says Virus Spread Has Slowed, But Surge Is Still Coming


Ohio health director Dr. Amy Acton says efforts to slow the progression of coronavirus in the Buckeye state are starting to pay off.  

For weeks now she has asked Ohioans to take important steps to limit their exposure to the virus and other people, in order to "flatten the curve" and slow the rate at which people contract the disease.  Acton says steps Ohioans are already taking, like staying at home and washing their hands, have decreased the virus' impact on the state's healthcare system by up to 75 percent - but people can't relax those efforts yet.

"Because the further we spread out that spread of infection, the more time our hospitals are getting ready, and doubling their capacity.... [but] I need you to know that it's not 'if' but 'when'.  We will surge.  At our peak surge we may be as high as 6,000 to 8,000 cases a day."

Acton says there is no "no surge" scenario for Ohio.  Even the more optimistic calculations that show the pandemic peaking in late April also show a shortage of hospital beds - especially critical  intensive care units.  Acton says conserving PPEs - personal protective equipment - for health care workers is still important.

"We're doing unique things about repurposing anesthesia machines, repurposing something called CPAP,  positive airway pressure machines, e're doing new tubing where more than one person can be on a ventilator at one time.  We are inventing things, we are building out hospitals and existing building structures - but we know we will need more.

15 deaths from COVID-19 have been reported in Ohio.  As of Thursday morning, there are 867 cases in 60 counties across the state.  223 people are hopitalized; 11% of them are in intensive care units.  And 145 of those positive cases are health care workers.  The Department of Health's newly created COVID-19 dashboard has the latest statistics on the pandemic in Ohio.

A native of Chicago, naturalized citizen of Cincinnati and resident of Columbus, Alison attended Earlham College and the Ohio State University. She has equal passion for Midwest history, hockey and Slavic poetry.
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