COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Data from the Ohio Department of Health shows COVID-19 deaths at long-term care facilities make up about 68 percent of Ohio’s total coronavirus deaths.
“We must get a clearer picture of how extensive this virus is at long-term care facilities,” Gov. Mike DeWine said. “With the help of the Ohio National Guard, we will be increasing our testing in an effort to protect our most vulnerable citizens and control the spread of the virus.”
Teams from the Ohio National Guard will soon be doing COVID-19 testing at long-term care facilities. Exact details of the plans have not been set, but Major General John Harris who serves as Adjutant General for the Ohio National Guard explained some of what’s going to happen during a virtual town hall on Facebook.
“Our mission will be to literally do everything from getting the sample sets to acquiring those to dropping them off at the labs and everything in between,” said Maj. Gen. Harris.
Ohio National Guard members are going through training before going out to do the testing. According to Maj. Gen. Harris, the Ohio Department of Health will be determining which long-term care facilities the teams will visit.
“This isn’t just a one-time deal where we hit all the nursing homes and go home,” Maj. Gen Harris said during the virtual town hall. “This is tied into a greater strategy.”
AARP has six key questions posted on it’s website it suggests people with loved ones in nursing homes should ask the people who run the long-term care facility. They include questions about what the facilities are doing to prevent infection and if there are staffing shortages.
“The situation is really difficult and heartbreaking,” said Holly Holtzen, AARP Ohio State Director. “We’re working to protect our nursing home residents in this difficult time.”
The work includes pushing for more personal protective equipment and testing. More testing should happen with the Ohio National Guard’s mission.