Ohio Governor Mike Dewine Enlists Two of His Predecessors to Lead a Team to Boost COVID-19 Testing

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has enlisted the help of two of his predecessors to source crucial COVID-19 testing items for his state as he seeks to press ahead with a planned reopening on May 1.

DeWine announced that former Govs. Richard Celeste and Bob Taft would work with business leaders and those in academia to get the supplies needed to expand testing across Ohio.

"Testing is vital as we work to get our economy restarted and keep Ohioans safe and healthy. I'm announcing the formation of a Testing Strike Team led by former Governor Richard Celeste and former Governor Bob Taft," DeWine tweeted.

"They will work with Ohio leaders from business, academia, and public health to be part of the effort to help us source critical testing items such as reagents," he added.

Testing is vital as we work to get our economy restarted and keep Ohioans safe and healthy. I'm announcing the formation of a Testing Strike Team led by former Governor Richard Celeste and former Governor Bob Taft.

— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) April 21, 2020

State experts and leaders had warned there was a shortage of the testing equipment needed to reopen the state. Last Friday, there was capacity to test around 4,000 people per day, but Dr. Peter Mohler, vice dean for research at Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center told the Columbus Dispatch that figure "is great, but we also need to continue to expand."

Out of a population of around 11 million, just over 94,000 tests had been conducted according to Johns Hopkins University, as of Wednesday.

DeWine announced this week that a new reagent was being developed by Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc, which has labs in Ohio, following approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USDA), the Business Journal Daily reported.

DeWine said that most labs in the state used Thermo Fisher machines, but until now, they did not have enough reagent. Now the labs can run test kits with the new reagent which could mean a big increase in testing capacity by the middle of next month.

"This will significantly expand the capacity of these labs. It is not the only thing slowing us down, but it is significant," DeWine said.

"Testing is vital as we begin to reopen our economy. We want to reopen the economy. We want to get people back to work. It's important that we do it the right way. That we do it the safe way," he said, according to the Business Journal Daily.

Protesters outside Ohio State House
A protest against the the stay-at-home order amid the Coronavirus pandemic takes place outside the Ohio State House in Columbus, Ohio on April 20, 2020. Governor Mike DeWine announced a Testing Strike Team to be led by 2 former governors, Dick Celeste and Bob Taft. MEGAN JELINGER/Getty Images

Last weekend, hundreds of people protested outside the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, against the stay at home order which closes non-essential businesses until May 1.

After that date, DeWine plans to open up parts of the state starting with businesses that can impose social distancing, cleaning protocols and other safety measures.

He will join Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and governors in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois in a coordinated regional approach to reopening the economy, Cincinatti.com reported.

Newsweek has contacted the office of Gov. DeWine for further comment.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html)
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
  • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.