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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine held his daily news conference Saturday, providing an update on the state’s effort to fight COVID-19 spread in the state.

DeWine was joined by Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton, Lt. Governor Jon Husted and U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown. 

As of Saturday, there were 1,406 cases reported in Ohio, 344 leading to hospitalizations and 25 deaths.

DeWine opened Saturday’s news conference by pointing out the production of the daily briefings was affected by a capital square employee going to the hospital with pneumonia. They are now producing each day’s briefing with a skeleton crew.

That employee tested negative for COVID-19.

The governor also discussed the Battelle Institute’s efforts to come up with a way to sterilize masks in order to reuse them. He called on the FDA to quickly approve the technology.

“We have nurses, doctors, and others who need these masks. We would be able to sterilize 160,000 per day. This is a matter of life and death. We need to protect or people who are risking their lives,” said DeWine.

Governor DeWine also urged private labs to accurately and quickly report testing data to the state.

“We absolutely have to have those results, and we have to have them in real time,” said DeWine.

An order was signed Friday night mandating inspections for essential state contractors still operating. The inspections are to assure they are abiding by coronavirus prevention best practices.

The governor also urged hospitals in any given region to come up with a coordinated plan. Central Ohio hospital systems released a joint plan Saturday announcing the use of the Columbus Convention Center as a join surge location.

DeWine thanked churches for their efforts to maintain social distancing through live streaming services and other unique plans.

Dr. Amy Acton shared some good news for the citizens of Ohio.

“I’m saying large numbers to you and I know it’s scary, 8,000 cases a day, 10,000 cases a day,” Acton said. “Those numbers, given 11.7 million people (in Ohio), are actually not that far apart… They’re not that different.”

However, Acton added that those numbers could have been worse.

“Those numbers are helpful to our planners, but for the rest of us, what it is saying is that we are flattening the curve in Ohio,” she said. “Those numbers would have been 50 to 75 percent higher than they are right now. Our curve would have been much steeper had we not acted starting a couple of weeks ago.”

During Friday’s news conference, DeWine signed Ohio’s first major legislative response to the coronavirus pandemic.