COLUMBUS, Ohio — Governor Mike DeWine, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, and Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton provided an update on the response to COVID-19 at the Ohio Statehouse on Monday afternoon.
The Ohio Department of Health is reporting that there are now 1,933 confirmed coronavirus cases in the state. 39 people have died.
Monday's briefing was highlighted by Gov. DeWine's announcement that the state's K-12 schools will remain closed through May 1. "We will evaluate as we get closer to that date."
During her portion of the press conference, Dr. Acton mentioned that Cleveland's I-X Center could soon be transformed into a field hospital to help treat coronavirus patients. Based on the state's current projections, which show that Ohio is expected to peak with 10,000 new daily cases in mid-late April, Governor Mike DeWine said last week that Ohio will need to either double or triple its hospital capacity in the coming days.
DeWine, as expected, reacted positively to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's approval of Columbus-based Battelle’s system that can decontaminate thousands of masks a day, according to a statement from the company.
"Last night we received the great news that Battelle can sterilize surgical masks without a daily limit. We are very happy, and we know that today they are moving forward and in a few days they will be up to full capacity," the governor said at Monday's briefing.
The facility is capable of decontaminating up to 80,000 respirator masks per system each day using concentrated, vapor phase hydrogen peroxide. The company can sterilize up to 160,000 masks daily in Ohio alone.
Earlier Sunday, the FDA only approved limited use of the technology at 10,000 surgical masks in the state a day, which was met by criticism from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine. In a press conference on Sunday, DeWine said President Donald Trump assured him that the approval would be handled quickly. DeWine also harshly criticized the FDA's initial decision, calling it "nothing short of reckless."
Click here for our special coronavirus section.