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Ohio Deploying COVID-19 Testing Teams To Nursing Homes

Karen Kasler

Residents at long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes, make up more than three-quarters of the deaths related to COVID-19 in Ohio. Gov. Mike DeWine says he is now ramping up efforts to combat this problem with a new strategy.

Ohio will be sending Congregate Care Unified Response Teams to places like nursing homes in order to increase testing for the coronavirus in those facilities.

Medical experts with the local and state health departments will do advance work, identifying which facilities need testing the most. Then the Ohio National Guard will go in and administer the COVID-19 tests.

"The only direction I've given is 'go save lives' and come up with the best way to deploy these resources, to go do it, and let's move," says DeWine.

The response teams will start with testing staff since those people should be the only people going in and out of nursing homes.

COVID-19 cases and deaths have been an issue at long-term care facilities since the beginning of the pandemic. DeWine was asked why the state is just now ramping up testing efforts at nursing homes.

"This is the first time we've felt really we've been able to deploy with this much focus because of the testing," DeWine said, adding that the growing testing capacity helps the state implement this strategy.

There are 916 nursing homes in the state of Ohio and DeWine says about 200 of those facilities already have a history of COVID-19.

Copyright 2020 The Statehouse News Bureau

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.