FDA OKs mask-sanitizing system; prison worker tests positive

State

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An employee at Marion Correctional Institution tested positive for the coronavirus, and the Food and Drug Administration authorized Columbus-based private research lab Battelle to deploy a system can sanitize 160,000 face masks a day. A look at virus-related developments in Ohio on Monday:

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CARE

After pushback from Gov. Mike DeWine, the FDA authorized Battelle to deploy a system in Ohio, New York and Washington state that can sanitize 160,000 face masks a day. The FDA initially approved only 10,000 masks a day.

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PRISONS

A prison employee at the Marion Correctional Institution tested positive for the coronavirus, officials reported, marking the first such occurrence in Ohio. The Ohio Supreme Court was considering a lawsuit by an inmate seeking release from Belmont Correctional Facility over fears of the virus.

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CASES

More than 1,600 cases are confirmed, with 29 deaths as of Sunday and more than 400 people hospitalized, officials reported. That doesn’t reflect all the cases in Ohio, because the state limits testing to those who are hospitalized and to health care workers.

For most people, COVID-19 displays mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can be more severe, causing pneumonia or death.

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ECONOMY

The state has updated its Support Local Ohio website promoting Ohio businesses with online options across the state and allowing businesses to create their own listings.

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EDUCATION

At Miami University, officials are already considering the possibility the pandemic will prevent students from returning to campus next fall, with an email to department heads soliciting suggestions for more courses to be taught online and discussing an expected sharp drop in attendance, according to The Enquirer.

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THE NEW NORMAL

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman said Monday he is donating two months of his Senate salary to organizations helping to fight the pandemic in Ohio. The multimillionaire Republican said he wants to help individuals and businesses struggling to stay financially afloat. The roughly $29,000 will be divided among five regional groups: the Cleveland Foundation COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund, the Columbus Foundation Emergency Response Fund, the United Way and Greater Cincinnati Foundation local nonprofit fund, the Southeast Ohio Food Bank and the Greater Toledo Community Foundation Covid-19 Response.

Organizers postponed the annual Taste of Cincinnati food festival until July, while fashioning a “virtual Taste” for the upcoming April 3-5 weekend. People are urged to order carryout, drivethru or delivery of their favorite dishes from festival participants, and bands who were scheduled to perform will play livestream concerts. Chefs will give cooking demonstrations online. T-shirts to benefit local businesses are being sold with the slogan: “Carry out, Carry on, Cincinnati.”

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Associated Press writers Dan Sewell in Cincinnati and Julie Carr Smyth in Columbus contributed to this report.

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