Governor DeWine announced during his regular press briefing Tuesday afternoon that he is creating the Congregate Care Unified Response Team, which will start aggressive COVID-19 testing in all Ohio nursing homes this week.
The Congregate Care Unified Response Team will be comprised of roughly 14 teams of 10 people each, who will assess the risks and situations within nursing homes to determine how immediately testing needs to occur. The response team will involve clinicians in local and state health departments who will identify hot spots and congregate living facilities in need of priority testing. From there, members of the Ohio National Guard will step in to administer tests.
All staff members in nursing homes will be tested, and residents will be tested based on the assessments provided by clinicians in the advanced team.
"This will be a decision based on clinically-driven strategy that targets those who have likely been exposed to COVID-19," said DeWine.
He said of Ohio's 960 nursing homes, approximately 200 already have a history with COVID-19.
While testing and precautionary methods have been happening in nursing homes since the initial outbreaks of COVID-19 in Ohio, DeWine said this process will gather more data about the virus, including tracing how it got into the nursing home and who could be affected.
"My only order to this team is to deploy resources we have as quickly as we can and focus on the goal of saving the most lives that we can," said DeWine.
This widespread testing process will begin this week, he said, with the goal of completing testing in every nursing and congregate care facility throughout the state. He said he plans to report back with more information they learn as a result of the testing in one week.