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COVID-19 Deaths Reach 19; Ohio Predicts 10,000 Cases Daily At Peak

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.

Gov. Mike DeWine said there’s what he calls a sense of great urgency in data indicating the numbers of COVID-19 cases could double every four to six days.

And he said the stay at home and shutdown orders need to continue to buy the health care system time to prepare for the peak – now suggested for mid-May.

“Whether it’s going to take doubling our hospital capacity or tripling our hospital capacity, either way, we gotta lot of work to do. Either way, it’s important for people to stay far apart," DeWine said.

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton says she’s planning for the worst case scenario and hopes she’s wrong – noting that workers in New York are wearing garbage bags as gowns.

"They are running out of supplies quickly, they are wearing garbage bags as gowns. It is not a good scene. I said this could be true anywhere in the world, no matter how developed the health care system is.”

DeWine has divided the state in eight regions, and has charged Adjutant General John Harris Jr. with managing health care system planning efforts in each of them. He wants rough drafts of those plans by 9am Saturday and final drafts by noon on Monday.

DeWine started his daily coronavirus update by signing the bill that state lawmakers passed unanimously this week. That legislation stops waives school testing requirements this academic year, suspends the one-week waiting period for unemployment compensation and allows people to get jobless benefits if they are sick or quarantined, moves the state tax deadline to July 15 and extends absentee voting for the March 17 primary to April 28.

DeWine said the orders he's issued so far are aimed at two goals: to continue social distancing buy more time, and to building up the health care system to be ready when the surge comes.

Sen. Rob Portman also joined the press conference by phone, to discuss the package that will send about $1,200 to most Americans making less than $75,000. He said those checks could go out next week. It will also send billions to state and local health departments across the country.

Portman also mentioned new expanded loans from the Small Business Association, of up to $10 billion per business. It converts from a loan to a grant if they use it for payroll, rent or other expenses. Portman said 800 financial institutions will offer these.

DeWine also mentioned a new way to connect with local restaurants, shops and activities that are online at ohio.org/supportlocalohio. He said 250 local places are online right now, but more can join.

Copyright 2020 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.