Ohio saw the highest number of deaths from COVID-19 in a single day since May, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Tuesday.
The state Department of Health reported that 87 deaths were reported in just the last day, bringing the total number of coronavirus deaths since the beginning of the pandemic to 4,506.
“This is the highest number of deaths reported since early May,” DeWine said, adding that it's also the third-highest daily increase since reporting began.
But DeWine also said the deaths did not all occur in previous 24 hours – 83% actually happened over the last month.
Data from the state health department indicates counties seeing the highest number of cases per 100,000 people right now include Putnam, Mercer and Butler counties. Statewide, the latest data shows Ohio at an average of 8.3 cases per 100,000 people and a positivity rate of 3.6%.
DeWine says the state continues to work toward increasing the number of people being tested for COVID-19. This week, it's resuming testing in assisted living facilities, which had been paused because of inconsistent test results.
State Department of Aging director Ursel McElroy says the state plans to conduct testing at assisted living facilities every other week.
“We have about 770 of those throughout the state,” McElroy said. “You’re looking at about 80,000 people or so who have to be tested.”
In nursing homes, the state continues to pursue more frequent testing to help those most at risk for COVID-19. The majority of Ohio's coronavirus deaths have occurred in the state’s nursing homes.
McElroy says more than 160,000 staff and residents have to be tested at nursing home facilities.
The state is preparing to reopen adult day care centers on September 21 and plans to test staff and participants at those facilities every other week. Staff at senior centers will also be tested every other week, with participant testing conducted strategically to prevent spread.
McElroy also said the state will announce soon a plan for indoor visitation at nursing homes. Outdoor visitation has been allowed since late July, but with weather changing, that may not be able to continue.
“We’re working really hard to be able to bolster those connections really soon,” McElroy said.
She also said the state is working on a dashboard that will offer information about nursing home visitation to consumers.
“What type of visitation, when it’s available, and if things have fluctuated based on the spread in that community,” McElroy said.
She urged people with concerns to reach out to the long term care ombudsman at the Ohio Department of Aging.
DeWine on Tuesday also announced that Cuyahoga County has the highest unemployment rate in the state, at 12.9%, which has led the state to pilot a new program called Ohio To Work to help connect people to training and available jobs.
The program has been developed by JobsOhio. Director J.B. Nauseef said the agency is uniquely capable of doing this quickly because of its structure. Nauseef said the initiative involves a partnership with more than 30 businesses in the Cleveland area.
“Many of them helped design the program,” Nauseef said.
He said the partnership has also involved the Urban League, Goodwill and Ohio Means Jobs to make sure Ohio’s recovery helps those most in need. Nauseef said 40% of the unemployed in Cuyahoga County are African American, compared to 20% statewide.
“It’s a collaborative effort designed to address this need by optimizing and supercharging the current workforce development system.”
Every person who signs up for the program will be assigned a coach, who will help guide them to training and ultimately the goal is to get to a sustainable higher paying new career. The governor noted there are a number of industries looking for skilled employees, including healthcare, technology and advanced manufacturing.
He says after it’s underway in Cleveland, the state hopes to expand the program statewide in the months ahead.