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COVID-19 Update: Eased Medicaid Restrictions, N95 Sterilization and Distillery-made Hand Sanitizer

April 10, 2020

Today, there was another press conference with Governor Mike DeWine, Lt. Governor Jon Husted and Dr. Amy Acton. There is no press conference currently scheduled for tomorrow or Sunday. 

As of today at 2 p.m., in Ohio, there were 5,836 confirmed cases, 42 probable cases (CDC expanded definition), 1,755 hospitalizations and 227 confirmed deaths with 4 probable deaths (CDC expanded definition) for a total figure of 231 dead with 548 ICU admissions.

To comply with new Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines recommended by the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, Acton has issued an amended Director’s Journal Entry with updated reporting requirements for COVID-19. Moving forward, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has ordered that confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 based on clinical and epidemiological evidence be reported within 24 hours to the local health district in which the person resides (previously only COVID-19 cases confirmed with a lab test were reportable).

DeWine announced a new permit from the Ohio Department of Transportation, allowing food vendors to temporarily serve food at Ohio’s 86 rest areas.  The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) temporarily lifted regulations prohibiting commercial activity at rest areas, with limited exceptions.  The permit is of no cost to the vendor and can be found on ODOT’s website. This action was supported by the Ohio Trucking Association, which released a statement that can be viewed by selecting this link.

The governor and the Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM), in partnership with Ohio’s Managed Care Plans announced an emergency amendment to ODM’s provider agreement. The updated agreement will impact pharmacy benefits, telehealth services and service authorization requirements. These changes are intended to remove barriers to care, and to safeguard individual health and wellbeing while reducing burdens on hospitals and providers.

Meanwhile, Husted announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted STERIS, a Mentor, Ohio-based company, a temporary Emergency Use Authorization for decontaminating compatible N95 and N95-equivalent respirators by utilizing V-PRO Sterilizers. This on-site solution allows hospitals to decontaminate up to 10 masks per cycle in 28 minutes.

Today, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) board of directors approved to send up to $1.6 billion to Ohio employers this spring to ease the economic impact on Ohio’s economy and business community.  This was proposed on Wednesday by DeWine and the BWC. Of the $1.6 billion dividend, approximately $1.4 billion would go to private employers and approximately $200 million would go to local governments. This action was supported by the Ohio Restaurant Association, which released a statement that can be viewed by selecting this link.

Many Ohio distilleries have stepped up and are now are producing large quantities of hand sanitizer. JobsOhio has purchased more than 3,100 cases (more than 1 million ounces) of distillery-made sanitizer. JobsOhio will donate the hand sanitizer to the Ohio Association of Foodbanks. Shipments of the hand sanitizer are arriving at distribution centers this week and will be delivered to Ohio’s 12 Food Banks next week and over the coming months as they need it.

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