Coronavirus Update: More Mask Clarification, Kroger Drive-Thru Testing, Graduations & More
Keep up with regular news updates regarding Columbus and Ohio’s response to COVID-19 here.
COVID-19 cases — As of Wednesday, April 29, 1,710 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Columbus and Worthington. In Franklin County, 2,216 confirmed and probable cases and 71 confirmed and probable deaths from COVID-19 have been reported.
Statewide, 17,303 cases and 937 deaths are confirmed or probable.
Mask Requirement Receives More Pullback
Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted announced in a Wednesday press briefing that exceptions would be made on the state’s mandate for employees to wear face coverings on the job.
Generally, exceptions will be made if wearing a face covering may jeopordize employee safety or if doing so would be impractical based on the industry or work environment of an employee.
Husted gave a list of reasons a business or employee can be exempted from the mask requirement, including when wearing a mask would be prohibited by law, against documented industry best practices, not advisable for health reasons, a violation of company safety policy or for other practical reasons.
A few examples include work environments that are in extreme heat conditions, industries where wearing a mask can cause a communication barrier and therefore could pose a danger for employees or for certain food service roles.
This comes after Tuesday, April 27’s reversal on requiring the public to wear masks in places of business. The reversal, like the original mandate, has caused some controversy among Ohioans.
Kroger Drive-Thru Testing
Cincinnati-based Kroger will expand its drive-thru COVID-19 testing model in Ohio and 11 other states this week.
Kroger will administer testing at Franklin Park Conservatory, beginning Thursday, April 30 at 8:30 a.m. That testing will continue daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. until Saturday, May 2, and weekly on Wednesdays and Thursdays until May 21.
Through a public-private testing partnership, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is providing access to test kits and laboratory services, with Kroger Health — the healthcare division of Kroger — providing professional services via nurse practitioners, pharmacists and technicians.
The company will be using self-administered test kits designed to increase safety and will have patients remain in their cars throughout the process, which is completed in just a few minutes.
People can access Kroger Health’s free virtual screening tool, based on Center for Disease Control recommendations, to determine if testing is needed and identify dates and locations for availability. The website is updated weekly as new testing sites continue to open up.
Visit krogerhealth.com/covid-locations for more information.
Guidance from the Ohio Department of Education is expected on Thursday on how school districts should handle graduation celebrations. However Governor Mike DeWine, in his Wednesday Coronavirus Update press briefing, previewed a few of the preferred ways the department will recommend districts celebrate graduates while maintaining the state’s Stay at Home order.
Among the preferred methods for celebrating are virtual graduations, drive-in ceremonies and small graduation events with 10 people or less in attendance at one time.
For more information on COVID-19 in Ohio, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.