PPE

A caregiver tests a patient for coronavirus at University Hospitals, Monday, March 16, 2020, in Mayfield Heights, Ohio.
Tony Dejak / Associated Press

Ohio is pumping millions of dollars into the production of more personal protective equipment to help people prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Lt. Gov. Jon Husted says the plan will also help Ohio's economic recovery.

At Pickaway Correctional Institution, 110 staff members and more than 1,400 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19.
Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction

A union that represents health care workers in Ohio’s correctional facilities is demanding additional personal protective equipment and staffing policy changes due to what they call “an unacceptable level of risk” during the ongoing pandemic.

Congressional investigators are launching an inquiry into a handful of companies that landed government contracts related to COVID-19, calling the deals "suspicious" because the companies lacked experience and, in some cases, had political connections to the Trump administration.

When nurses and doctors across the country were struggling to treat coronavirus patients without enough protective gear, and the federal government was scrambling to find those supplies, Quedon Baul saw an opportunity.

His three-person company in McKinney, Texas, distributes medical supplies but didn't have much experience with face shields. Still, he landed two government contracts worth up to $20 million to deliver the personal protective equipment. He couldn't meet the first deadline, so he found subcontractors to do the job.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, center, tours decontamination units at a COVID-19 testing site with Sean Harrington, of Battelle Critical Care Decontamination System, right, on Wednesday, May 6, 2020, in Miami Gardens.
Lynne Sladky / Associated Press

In late March, workers at a Columbus warehouse were loading Battelle’s Critical Care Decontamination Systems onto truck beds. The technology is the first of its kind – modular so they could be easily shipped to coronavirus hot spots, with the promise of being able to clean 80,000 pieces of personal protective equipment for re-use up to 20 times.

Ohio schools, which were initially closed until May 1, will remain shuttered through the end of the school year.
Ryan Hitchcock / WOSU

As Columbus City Schools prepares to close out this school year, district officials are examining the cost of re-opening schools in the fall. 

The national stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPE) supplied Ohio with more than 493,000 gloves, 271,000 N95 masks, 675,000 surgical masks and other gear.

But state and local leaders say those shipments weren’t enough to mount a proper defense against the coronavirus pandemic. So local governments have been asking for PPE donations — and in some cases, buying their own gear.

Inside a hospital "room" for coronavirus patients at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
Greater Columbus Convention Center

The Ohio Department of Health reports 1,999 people, or about 17%, of Ohio's confirmed coronavirus cases, are health care workers. The Ohio Nurses Association, a union representing 8,000 nurses across the state, says it wants details on where those cases are located.

Reserve soldiers with the Ohio National Guard gather personal protective equipment to be used in Ohio prisons.
Dan Konik / Ohio Public Radio

The Ohio National Guard’s Military Reserve soldiers have been helping out at food banks, but they are also collecting and distributing personal protective equipment to people who need it.

As the number of coronavirus cases surged in Massachusetts, nurses at a hospital in Milford were desperate. They held up cardboard signs outside the hospital asking for donations of protective gear to wear while treating infected patients.

William Touhey Jr. thought he could help. Touhey is the fire chief and emergency management director in this small town outside of Boston. He did some legwork, and placed an order for 30,000 protective gowns from overseas.

"We were hearing good things that it was coming," Touhey said.

The state has filed a lawsuit against a Cleveland-area man for hoarding personal protective equipment that is sorely needed by health care workers fighting coronavirus. 

In this Friday, March 27, 2020 photo provided by Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, makeshift hospital rooms stretch out along the floor at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York.
Darren McGee / Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo / Associated Press

Wexner Medical Center emergency medicine pharmacist Andrew North says the Jacob Javits Center in New York City hardly looks like a convention hall these days.

The Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville, Ohio.
Gabe Rosenberg / WOSU

While supplies of personal protective equipment remain tight, Ohio prison inmates will be making their own masks. 

Ohio has gotten all that it’s likely to get from the National Strategic Stockpile of medical supplies – a plane dropped off gowns, gloves, coveralls, face shields, surgical masks and N-95 masks in Columbus Tuesday. But the state says it’s not enough for now or through the surge of COVID-19 patients that is expected in the near future.

Dr. Amy Acton, Ohio Department of Health Director, stresses how important masks are for hospitals and that there is a serious shortage of health care supplies.
Andy Chow / Ohio Public Radio

The state is working on building up medical capacity for when the coronavirus is expected to hit its peak, now predicted for mid-May. Ohio's Department of Health has said there could be up to 10,000 cases per day at that point.

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