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November 11, 2020

Governor DeWine Addresses State. This evening, Governor Mike DeWine took to the airwaves to deliver a grave message to Ohioans about the spread of COVID-19. After nodding to the promise of a vaccine in the not-too-distant future, the Governor then recited the chilling statistics that have become commonplace over the past few weeks: record numbers of cases, hospitalizations, intensive care unit patients, and deaths, with all 88 counties showing high virus spread. The Governor emphasized the impact of COVID-19 on the health care workforce and the potential for straining hospital capacity in the near term. He then turned to the importance of masks, social distancing, and avoiding gatherings.

Governor DeWine listed measures to strengthen previous orders on masks and gatherings. Retail establishments will be inspected by compliance unit led by the Bureau of Workers' Compensation and could risk closure for up to 24 hours for not enforcing mask-wearing. Private gatherings will not be allowed to have open space in which people congregate, and all participants must be seated, wear masks unless actively consuming food and drink, and not engage in dancing or other acitivities. Most importantly, the Governor threatened to close restaurants, bars, and fitness centers if the trend of increasing cases is not reversed in the next week. He pointed out that schools and universities may need to go to virtual instruction and discouraged holiday gatherings, closing with exhortations for Ohioans to care for one another by exercising precautions.

New CDC Guidance Says Facemasks Protect Wearer. A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) scientific brief - which is not specific to health care - amends conventional wisdom by suggesting that facemasks, including cloth face coverings, can provide a significant measure of protection to the wearer in addition to offering source control. The degree of protection depends on how the mask is constructed. According to studies cited in the brief, face coverings and masks can stop between 50% and 80% of droplets. CDC concluded, "[t]he prevention benefit of masking is derived from the combination of source control and personal protection for the mask wearer."

Quarantining SNF Admissions/Readmissions. CDC guidelines for SNFs specify:

Depending on the prevalence of COVID-19 in the community, [a facility's plan for new admissions and readmissions] might include placing the resident in a single-person room or in a separate observation area so the resident can be monitored for evidence of COVID-19. [Health care personnel] should wear an N95 or higher-level respirator (or facemask if a respirator is not available), eye protection (i.e., goggles or a face shield that covers the front and sides of the face), gloves, and gown when caring for these residents. Residents can be transferred out of the observation area to the main facility if they remain afebrile and without symptoms for 14 days after their admission. Testing at the end of this period can be considered to increase certainty that the resident is not infected.

In some cases, surveyors have cited SNFs under F-880 for not following this CDC guidance, which is written in somewhat less than mandatory terms. If you have received such a citation or written communication from the Health Department requiring quarantine for 14 days in a private room, please forward the 2567 or written communication to Pete Van Runkle at OHCA. We are gathering these examples as part of a national effort on this topic.