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Coronavirus
As a new strain of coronavirus (covid-19) sweeps through the world, stay up-to-date on the latest preparedness plans, school closings, changed polling locations, and more in the Tri-State.

Coronavirus In Ohio: Hospitals Banned From Sending COVID-19 Tests To Private Labs

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

Ohio Department of Health director Amy Acton signed an order Wednesday that bans hospitals from sending COVID-19 tests to private labs. 

Gov. Mike DeWine announced the order at his daily coronavirus press conference Wednesday.

"Beginning today, when Dr. Acton signs this, you will be required to send this to another hospital that is doing testing and that can make a quick turn around for you," DeWine said.

The Ohio Department of Health on Wednesday reported that 65 people have died from COVID-19, an 18% increase from the day before. There are now 2,547 confirmed cases in 72 counties. So far, 679 people hospitalized and 222 admitted into the ICU.

However, due to limited testing capabilities, those numbers still don't come close to capturing the spread of the coronavirus in Ohio.

DeWine says private labs take between four to six days to return results, which he calls "unacceptable." He says local hospitals are able to cut that lag time significantly.

"We have already confirmed that Ohio State, Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals in Cleveland and Metro Health in Cleveland all have capacity and are willing to take your tests," he says. 

DeWine hopes more hospitals will come forward to do the same.

"Some of these labs have a very significant unused capacity each day that is not really fully utilized," he said. 

The Ohio Department of Health will continue to process tests as well, but for the most part only for critical patients and health care workers.

DeWine also announced that as soon as they're made available, the state will begin using newly-developed tests that can deliver same-day results.

Copyright 2020 WOSU 89.7 NPR News