Gov. DeWine, Dr. Acton recommend wearing masks, caution against complacency

Dr. Amy Acton during Ohio's daily coronavirus briefing on March 28, 2020.

COLUMBUS (WTVG) - Gov. Mike DeWine says he plans to wear a homemade mask whenever he goes out in public, in accordance with new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC updated its guidance on the use of masks by the general public on Friday as they seek new ways to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus that has infected more than a million people worldwide, over 300,000 here in the U.S. alone.

The new CDC guidance recommends that anyone in the public, and perhaps should, don a cloth mask when they are out and about. But with the new guidance comes a new warning from both the governor and Ohio Health Director, Dr. Amy Acton, as they cautioned against the public feeling a "false sense of security" as a result of the masks.

The masks, says Dr. Acton, are about 80% effective at stopping the spread of the virus, which is better than nothing at all. Dr. Acton has long said that we should all act as though we have the virus and are capable of spreading it to others even if we ourselves are not experiencing symptoms. The masks are an effort to slow the spread but, as Acton and DeWine both stressed during their Saturday afternoon press conference, they should be used in addition to the social distancing measures that have been in effect in Ohio for weeks.

Those social distancing efforts, says Dr. Acton, are working, slowing the spread of the virus long enough to allow Ohio's hospitals to increase capacity to handle the increasing number of patients in need of care. Gov. DeWine says he has been speaking with members of Ohio's health systems and has been impressed by the amount of expansion they've been able to do on their own, without assistance from the Ohio National Guard, which has been mobilized to help in converting standing structures to house patients.

In addition to concerns over beds, DeWine is also looking at ways to increase the amount of Personal Protective Equipment available to the state's front line healthcare workers. Things like N95 respirator masks, sterile gowns, surgical masks, face shields, and other equipment meant to keep doctors, nurses, and first responders safe as they assist patients are in short supply nationwide. The governor says he is working with contacts to bring in supplies from international vendors, as other states, including Massachusetts, have begun doing, and is expecting the first of these shipments to arrive on Tuesday.