Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed a new executive order lowering barriers for telehealth services Saturday afternoon, and Ohio Department of Health director Amy Acton endorsed the use of handsewn masks to protect Ohioans from some transmission of COVID-19.
Their joint news conference marked the end of the first week of April and a pair of grim milestones in the battle with COVID-19. Shortly before the pair spoke, ODH announced coronavirus-related hospitalizations had surpassed 1,000; over 100 Ohioans had died.
Masks are not a substitute for other viral preventative measures such as handwashing and social distancing, Acton said, but certain kinds can prevent asymptomatic carriers — those who are ill but don’t know it — from infecting others. She and DeWine both plan to begin wearing them in public, and she promised the state government would soon provide a tutorial showing the best way to make one at home.
“It’s not 100% (protection),” she said. “It’s about 80% effective, but that 80%, like our Swiss cheese layers of everything we’re doing to stay home, adds up collectively to slowing down the spread of this virus, buying us time. Precious time.”
Her recommendation echoes advice given Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which announced that non-medical-grade masks could prevent infection that might otherwise come from the microscopic droplets produced by speech, coughing and sneezing. Like Acton, the CDC recommended they become part of the public dress code in places like stores and pharmacies.
“It’s a culture change, but Ohio, we have changed culture on a dime,” Acton said.
DeWine’s executive order, the latest of several, will legally allow patients to see counselors, social workers, and marriage or family counselors via telehealth appointment without first having a face-to-face meeting. The healthcare provider will no longer be required to take special training in order to see patients remotely.