Ohio Creates New COVID-19 Testing Protocols

May 4, 2020

Ohio is ramping up its ability to test for COVID-19, which means a big increase in testing by the end of May. Gov. Mike DeWine is now announcing new protocols to follow since testing won't be as limited as it once was.

Hospital patients and health care workers will remain the top priority for tests. The second tier will continue to include high risk people with symptoms but then add people who are asymptomatic but living in congregate settings such as nursing homes.

More testing will bring increases in more confirmed cases. Dr. Amy Acton, health department director, says they will look at other numbers such as the positivity rate, to track the spread of the virus.

"So those sorts of numbers allow for it to take out the fact of how much tests you're doing but keeping the ratio the same," says Acton.

Acton says another indicator to follow is the "Ro" (pronounced R Naught) which follows the intensity of an infectious disease and tracks how many people can become infected by a single, infected person.

"So we're really looking at a number of indices to know one thing, we'll also hopefully look at some economic indicators as well because all of that is really interesting information especially for policymakers who have to make really hard decisions," says Acton.

The state is expecting to go from averaging about 3,700 tests a day to 22,000 tests a day by the end of the month. The current rate is about 41 tests per 100,000 people, but DeWine says the state hopes to increase that to about 150 tests per 100,000 people.