COLUMBUS, OH — As more COVID-19 cases continue to be reported across the country, state governments are working on plans to keep the virus from spreading.
On Saturday, officials here in Ohio announced that they now have the capability to test for the new strain of coronavirus.
While there are still no confirmed cases in the state, Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Director Dr. Amy Acton said it is just a matter of time until we see one.
“In this situation, we’re sort of having to create a process that doesn’t really exist and so I feel our state is very well prepared and is being very strategic,” she said.
Acton, along with Governor Mike DeWine, said there are a limited number of people that can be tested by the state at this time (about 300-400). She said Ohio is in line to receive more kits when available.
Along with the Ohio Department of Health, DeWine announced two private labs, LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics are also capable of testing.
Governor DeWine said some hospitals will begin to start testing within approximately two weeks.
As of Saturday afternoon, Ohio has 5 Persons Under Investigation (PUIs) awaiting test results. A spokesperson for ODH said they are all separate cases.
State officials announced a “three-pronged” plan going forward. First, they will prioritize the elderly, people who have preexisting health conditions, those who are immunocompromised and healthcare professionals on the “front line.”
Second, the general public should be connecting with their primary care physician if they are showing symptoms. Tests will only be conducted with the primary care physician’s consent.
“Most people, over 80% in the science we have now, will be able to stay at home and believe me we want people to stay at home if they’re sick with this just like they would with the flu,” said Acton.
Third, ‘community spread’ will be monitored. All test results will be sent directly to ODH.
“The Ohio Dept. of Health will start posting data 7 days a week instead of 5 days a week about the number of persons under investigation in Ohio,” said Gov. DeWine.
Acton recommends citizens visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 833-4-ASK-ODH for information on virus.