COVID-19 State Update: Masks in Schools, Rapid Testing, Community Spread and More
August 4, 2020
Today, Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted provided updates on the status of the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
DeWine announced the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) will issue a health order requiring that K-12 children wear face coverings while at school. The new mandate comes after the Ohio Children's Hospital Association and American Academy of Pediatrics Ohio Chapter issued a joint letter today recommending widespread use of masks in schools with the following exceptions:
- Children under the age of 2 years old
- Any child unable to remove the face covering without assistance
- A child with a significant behavioral/psychological issue undergoing treatment that is exacerbated specifically by the use of a facial covering (e.g. severe anxiety or a tactile aversion)
- A child living with severe autism or with extreme developmental delay who may become agitated or anxious wearing a mask
- A child with a facial deformity that causes airway obstruction
"Without a vaccine, we are limited in the ways that we can protect the people of Ohio," the governor said. "For schools to have a fighting chance to stay open this fall, widespread face coverings for K-12 students will increase the odds that kids will go to school and stay in school."
It was also announced that Ohio is entering into a multi-state purchasing agreement with Maryland, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan and Virginia to expand the use of rapid point-of-care tests.
"Over the past week, we have conducted an average of 22,334 COVID-19 tests a day with Ohio's current testing procedure, but rapid point-of-care tests are faster, simpler, and less expensive," said DeWine. "Expanding the use of this testing will serve as an important screening tool and a critical addition to our plan to limit the spread of COVID-19."
More rapid point-of-care testing will help Ohio detect outbreaks sooner with faster turnaround time, expand testing in congregate settings, and make testing more accessible for the most high-risk and hard-hit communities.
DeWine today also continued to warn Ohioans about community spread connected to informal gatherings between family and friends.
"The truth is that it is easier to be scared of a stranger than a friend. Maintaining social distance and choosing to not gather together is really a sign that you care about your loved ones," DeWine added.
New data compiled by the ODH shows the amount of community spread per county over the past two weeks.
DeWine also announced that he will send a letter to Ohio's faith-based community to share important health information with Ohio churches, synagogues, and mosques and to share ways to better protect their worshipers.
One case study shows that a man with COVID-19 attended a church service in Ohio; following that service, 91 additional people from five counties developed symptoms.
"I know that our faith-based leaders want nothing more than to protect their worshipers, but we also know that the virus can easily spread in places where people gather," said DeWine. "It is vital that, any time people gather together, everyone wear masks, practice social distancing, wash hands, and while indoors, making sure there is good ventilation and airflow."
DeWine announced that Dr. Amy Acton, Ohio's former director of the ODH, has decided to leave state employment and return to her role at the Columbus Foundation, where she worked previously.
"While it saddens me that she will be leaving my office, she has assured me that she is just a phone call away and will be available to continue advising us as we move through this pandemic," said DeWine.