Thousands of Americans have died from COVID-19, and many more still will. The elderly are especially vulnerable, as are people with underlying health conditions. So doctors and health experts are telling people to plan ahead and talk to their family about a difficult topic: how they want to die.

Healthcare workers are under immense pressure amid the coronavirus pandemic. They face shortages of protective equipment such as gloves and masks. They’re pulling long shifts. And they risk being infected with the virus. 

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton says the state could be looking at issuing protocols for all hospital staff in order to help preserve personal protection equipment or PPE.

Ohio Department of Health director Amy Acton signed an order Wednesday that bans hospitals from sending COVID-19 tests to private labs. 

In the coming weeks, Governor Mike DeWine says that the state of Ohio is probably going to have to double its hospital capacity to meet the needs of coronavirus patients.

In recent days, officials have started to warn of what they’ve called a coming storm - the people who may have already contracted coronavirus, but aren’t sick yet.

If too many people get too sick too quickly, the hospitals get overwhelmed. So the state is approaching the problem from two angles: expanding healthcare capacity - and keeping people from getting each other sick.

At his Thursday press conference, Governor Mike DeWine said he’s been working with Ohio’s hospitals to make sure there’s a plan in place for the wave of coronavirus victims to come.

Mike Abrams, President of the Ohio Hospital Association, during the March 17 governor's press conference.
The Ohio Channel

With community spread of COVID-19, and cases popping up around the Miami Valley, healthcare organizations are getting ready for the influx of new patients.

Local healthcare organizations say they are doing everything they can to lower demand for healthcare. They are trying to limit the spread of coronavirus transmission now, so they don’t get overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients later.

We continue to answer your questions about the coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19 -- and there sure are plenty. That's to be expected as the nation convulses from unprecedented lockdowns, quarantines and other interruptions. Here are some questions we received via email, with responses from Side Effects community engagement specialist Brittani Howell:

Ohio's Department of Health has issued a public health order telling medical centers to stop all elective surgeries and other procedures, in an effort to free up staff and equipment for dealing with COVID-19 coronavirus.

Miami Valley Hospital.
Premier Health

Miami Valley’s hospitals are preparing for an influx of COVID-19 patients. As WYSO’s Jason Saul reports, those hospitals have been training for an outbreak of an infectious disease like this one.

A healthcare facility, like an urgent care center or a hospital, isn’t a place you go when you’re feeling okay. They’re full of people who are already sick. And people with other underlying health conditions are more at risk if they get this new disease.