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Ohio – Ohio to buy 2 million at-home rapid COVID-19 tests

Using $50 million of the state’s CARES Act funding, Ohio will purchase about 2 million at-home COVID-19 antigen tests that return results in about 15 minutes, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday, Jan. 21.

The state also will partner with Abbott and eMed to help with remote guidance for the self-administered test allowing for a more aggressive testing protocol, he said.

“Through an agreement with eMed to provide telehealth service, an individual who uses one of these tests can be guided by a proctor and will get the results in minutes without having to visit a testing location,” DeWine said at his coronavirus briefing.

How rapid testing will be used is up to each local health department, said the governor, although the tests come with some “broad guidelines.” Communities have asked to use the tests for first responders and schools, he added.

“If we have a hot spot somewhere, we can go right in that day and test,” he said.

DeWine has asked all public schools in the state to plan for some level of in-person education beginning in March. According to the Ohio Department of Education, about 42.5% of schools across the state have students in-person five days a week, while 23.8% offer total remote learning and the remainder are a hybrid of the two.

The possibility of statewide school openings come as new daily COVID-19 cases have flattened recently. However, the state continues to see a high incident of spread in all 88 counties, triggering the governor to continue an overnight curfew that was set to expire Saturday, Jan. 23.

“We are still at a very high level (of cases) so we are going to have to continue on with the curfew,” DeWine said.

He said the “next step” before rescinding the 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, which has been in effect since Nov. 19, would be to extend the start time to 11 p.m., but that “we are not there.”

The Ohio Department of Health reported there were 7,271 new daily COVID-19 cases Thursday, Jan. 21. Across the state, 306 more Ohioans were hospitalized and 35 more were admitted to an intensive care unit. The total number of fatalities in the state is 10,518, up 109 from the previous 24 hours. More than 8.6 million tests in total have been administered.

As of Thursday, 500,176 vaccinations had been given, up 18,219 from the previous day. DeWine sent a letter to the Biden administration asking for more vaccines for Ohio asserting that the process was in place to administer them if the supply were to increase.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced that Ohio is looking into a possible 44,000 fraudulent unemployment claims out of the more than 7 million filed since the onset of the pandemic. Of the 1.4 million pandemic assistance claims, he said 796,000 have been flagged for potential fraud. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services is looking at those questionable claims as possible identity theft. Any Ohioan who suspects that an unemployment claim was filed erroneously in their name should visit the ODJFS website and report it, Husted said.

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