Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday that schools can reopen in the fall but with recommendations for each school district amid the pandemic. DeWine said every school district “should strive” to do 6 feet of social distancing in all school environments: in the classrooms, hallways, lunch rooms, buses.
“There is a great deal of flexibility for each school district,” DeWine explained. “Some schools may implement modified schedules, have lunch in the classrooms, stagger lunch times.”
DeWine also said each district must come up with a face covering policy. His office is recommending all school staff be required to wear a face covering, “unless it’s unsafe, or when doing so can significantly interfere with the school process.”
If a face mask isn’t possible, staff should consider a face shield.
The State of Ohio also “strongly recommended children in grade three on up wear face masks in school…but even kindergartners can wear them, according to science,” DeWine said.
He stressed each school district will decide what’s best for them.
One of the items many districts have asked about is where the funding will come from to purchase additional cleaning equipment as added sanitizing measures are a requirement. DeWine said the CARES Act will help districts fund the cleaning supplies.
“There’s a strong consensus kids need to get back into the school building,” DeWine said. “So we have developed a set of guidelines – backed by science – that each school should follow when creating reopening plans.”
To be able to keep schools open, each of the following guidelines must be maintained.
1) Visually assess symptoms: Parents/caregivers are to do daily health checks on their kids before sending them to school. Any child with a temperature above 100 degrees Fahrenheit must stay home. Districts will have the option to take temperatures in school. School administration must send home anyone who develops a fever – staff or student – and recommend a COVID-19 test. If a positive COVID-19 test, county health department must be notified.
2) Wash and sanitize hands to prevent spread: Schools must provide ample opportunity for staff and students to wash hands. Offer sanitizing stations near high travel areas.
3) Thoroughly clean shared surfaces: Use disinfectants to help reduce spread of infectious diseases.
4) Practice social distancing: Science says at least 6 feet reduces spread. Schools should strive to do 6 feet of social distancing in all school environments: in classrooms, lunch rooms, hallways, buses. “There is a great deal of flexibility for each school district,” DeWine explained.
5) Face covering policy: Every school must develop a face covering policy. Staff is required to wear face coverings, unless it’s unsafe or when doing so can significantly interfere with the school process. Staff to consider face shield when face mask isn’t possible. DeWine strongly recommends students in grade 3 through 12 wear a face covering.
ASSESSMENT FROM AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS (AAP)
“As pediatricians, we recognize you’re worried,” an expert with AAP explained during DeWine’s news conference. “We want your children to be safe as well. School policies need to be supported by families and the community they live in.”
The AAP came out with a recommendation earlier this week that said it would cause more harm to not be physically present in school. “The risk of being in school outweighs the risk of not being there,” the AAP said.
What does it mean?
“Children make up roughly 24% of the population across the country, yet they only make up 2% of COVID-19 cases,” the AAP said. “Kids don’t get [the virus] as frequently as adults do. When they do get it, they may not show as many symptoms and they aren’t as ill….by and large, children have tended to do better in this pandemic than adults,” said the AAP.
The AAP added school is so much more than math and science. “[Kids] have access to healthy meals and exercise, mental health support and social interaction. Mental health is such a big concern during these times. We have seen a marked increase with anxiety and depression since quarantine. We know these guidelines aren’t going to please everyone. And that’s OK. If you’re frustrated, share it in private, not with your kids. Stay positive, teach [your kids] resilience.
Questions and comments can be found/made via: OhioAAP.org.
PUBLIC HEALTH ADVISORY ALERT SYSTEM CREATED
Gov. Mike DeWine then switched gears, telling Ohioans we are now in another critical juncture. “The virus, once again, is spreading with a vengeance in many parts of the country – and in many parts in Ohio. We can’t move backward. We’ve come too far. Our best defense moving forward is offense. The next phase is learning to live with this virus.”
The goals outlined in Ohio in the next phase include a new warning system called the Public Health Advisory Alert System. This system will provide community leaders, health departments, state leaders and more with data and information to enable additional safety measures when flare ups happen in different parts of the state.
“I’ve heard we should handle different parts of the state and different counties differently,” DeWine said. That’s how the alert system was born.
“COVID-19 experts say there’s likely community spread in every Ohio county,” explained DeWine. He provided a summary of how the virus is spreading:
– At large family gatherings, graduation celebrations, funerals, and other mass gatherings like protests.
– In some cases, COVID-19 is spreading at the work place, “although most employers are doing a phenomenal job”.
– It’s spreading in bars and restaurants and tourist destinations “because people who are showing symptoms aren’t staying home when they should, because they aren’t wearing masks and because they aren’t social distancing. Many cases are involving younger Ohioans in their 20s and 30s,” said DeWine.
He continued with a warning: “All of the actions Ohioans have been taking are in danger of being reversed, quite frankly.”
Here are the seven data indicators that will provide risk level, known as the Public Health Advisory Alert System:
1) New cases per capita
2) Look at number of sustained increases – if increase for series of 5 days, county will be flagged.
3) Proportion of cases that are not congregate cases: prisons, long-term care. While those in the named facilities are less likely to transmit to general public, if a specific portion of cases are coming from the, a county will be flagged.
4) Sustained increase in ER room visits (1 of 2 symptom indicators): a county will be flagged when there’s an increase in positive cases over 5 days.
5) Sustained increase in outpatient visits (second symptom indicator) – this data looks at the number of people visiting doctor’s offices and serves as an early indicator for future hospitalizations.
6) ustained increase in COVID-19 hospital admissions (hospitalization indicator 1 of 2): Focuses on the number of people in a county sick enough to be admitted to a hospital for COVID-19. Shows burden of increase in community. If a certain number is met and averaged over 5 days, county will be flagged.
7) Intensive care unit/ICU occupancy (hospitalization indicator 2): this looks at regional date for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 use of beds to give indication of how full hospitals are. When regional ICU occupancy is above 70% in 3 of last 7 days, a county will be flagged.
The State is looking to refine these measurements and wants to implement three additional ones: contract tracing, tests per capita and percent positivity.
How do these indicators inform about different alert levels? DeWine showed a state map with different colors.
– Level 1 counties were in yellow, identified as having 0-1 trigger indicators listed above; moderate number of cases, but no rapid spread.
– Level 2 counties were in orange, identified as having 2-3 indicators listed above; increase of exposure and spread. Cases are growing in these communities over the past 2 weeks. More people are going to the doctor because they have COVID-19 symptoms. Avoid anyone considered high risk; limit unnecessary trips to those in nursing home care.
– Level 3 counties were in red.
– Level 4 counties will be purple in color.
As of July 2, 2020, here are the number of Ohio counties (out of 88) in each level:
– 53 Ohio counties are at Level 1
– 28 Ohio counties are at Level 2 (this includes Summit and Medina counties)
– 7 Ohio counties are at Level 3
– 0 Ohio counties are at level 4 (although Franklin County is on a watch list as they approach this level)
Level 3 alerts are triggered by 4-5 indicators. Seven of Ohio’s 88 counties are in level 3. It means risk is very high and you’re asked to limit activities in these counties, strongly urged to wear a mask, consider online ordering options, including church attendance; Much community spread present. ICU stays are climbing at this level; consider only necessary travel and limit gatherings of any kind.
The following counties are Level 3:
Trumbull County – in addition to multiple outbreaks in congregate settings, they also have an outbreak in non-congregate places. Average new cases have doubled and ER visits have tripled.
Huron County – while the smallest county, they are seeing a spike primarily with agricultural workers/several farming operation outbreaks.
Montgomery County – More than 80% of cases here have been linked to community spread. Community outbreaks are tied to faith-based organizations, the work place and childcare settings.
Butler County – The average new cases per day have doubled. The increase is not due to more testing, according to DeWine. Recent outbreaks include a retail store and long-term care facility.
Cuyahoga County – Met 4 criteria and have a growing number of cases among the community. Total number of two week cases are higher this past two weeks than any other time frame since the pandemic began.
Hamilton County – While this county had been holding steady, it’s now seeing cases quadruple each day in the past week. ER visits have nearly tripled. COVID-19 diagnoses have nearly tripled. Outbreak in faith-based community setting.
Franklin County – Now on the watch list as the number of cases continues to grow — 1,500 in the last two weeks with the majority in the last week. Met 5 of seven health indicators.
Level 4 is triggered by 6-7 indicators. No Ohio counties are currently in this category, but Franklin County is approaching it.
“Regardless of alert level, high risk individuals (60% of Ohio’s population) should take every precaution to avoid contracting COVID-19,” said DeWine. “Ohioans should also assume if one household member is sick [with the virus], every household member should be treated as they’re sick. Including contacting doctor and self-quarantining.”
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
“We are seeing increases in cases among restaurants and bars,” said DeWine. “I must say, the vast majority of restaurants and bars and other Ohio businesses are doing a great job, doing the best that they can. It doesn’t mean if they get COVID in their facility that they are not doing a good job.”
Since bars and restaurants have reopened with indoor dining, DeWine said they’ve learned outside is less contagious than inside. “Anytime we can get bars to expand outside, spread apart, it is a very positive thing. [Restaurant and bar owners/staff] need to insist on social distancing when people come in.”
“I have seen many of the pictures circulating and they are very disturbing,” DeWine said, referring to some packed bars in the Put-In-Bay area. “We will be cracking down on those businesses.”
RECOVERY NUMBERS ANNOUNCED
Lt. Gov. John Husted announced today some presumed recovery numbers/metrics that will soon be shared and available on the coronavirus.ohio.gov website. “While we can’t know specifically or verify every case, what we can do is come up with a presumed recovered number,” explained Husted.
The formula is: Overall number of cases (minus) deaths (minus) cases based on onset day = presumed recovered
As of July 2, 2020 — 38,987 people have recovered from COVID-19.
On the Web: Coronavirus Ohio