Richland Public Health building

Richland Public Health is located at 555 Lexington Ave. in Mansfield. (Richland Source file photo)

MANSFIELD -- Richland County's third reported COVID-19 related death was a 79-year-old man who became ill while living in a long-term care facility, according to Richland Public Health Commissioner Sarah Humphrey.

The death, reported Thursday, is in keeping with coronavirus-death trends around Ohio. About 72 percent of Ohio's deaths attributed to COVID-19 are connected to nursing homes, long-term care facilities and the state's prison system. In another story published May 21, WOSU reported the total of COVID-19 deaths in Ohio nursing homes is 1,247, which is 79% of confirmed deaths.

Two of Richland County's three deaths fall into this category. The county's first COVID-19 death in April was employed at the Marion Correctional Institution. Two of the three deaths reported in Crawford County were linked to long-term care facilities, according to the state health department.

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As of Wednesday, which is the day Ohio makes public its weekly update of long-term care facility deaths, Ohio had 1,247 such deaths. As of Thursday, the prisons reported 67 COVID-19 related deaths among inmates and staff members.

That would mean there have been 523 deaths statewide outside of those sites and institutions since the pandemic began, according to Ohio's statistics. Ohio has a population total of approximately 11.7 million people.

Humphrey did not identify the Richland County facility. She said Friday that Richland County has 60 confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases still open, meaning the individual is still ill or local officials do not have a recovery status.

"Of those 60, right now, I can confirm that 23 live in a communal residency, being long-term care, shelter, detention, or correctional setting," Humphrey said. "Additional cases may be attributed to employees who have their own residency address."

Long-term care facilities were a focus for Gov. Mike DeWine on Thursday, announcing the Ohio National Guard has assembled teams to assist with COVID-19 test collection and temporary staffing at such sites.

“We must get a clearer picture of how extensive this virus is at long-term care facilities,” DeWine said. “With the help of the Ohio National Guard, we will be increasing our testing in an effort to protect our most vulnerable citizens and control the spread of the virus.”

Teams of medically qualified personnel are supporting the Ohio Department of Health with COVID-19 testing collection.

Similar to the new medical testing mission, the Ohio National Guard is currently providing medical support to Carlin House Assisted Living Center in Logan. Service members are providing short-term support at the facility due to staffing shortages related to COVID-19.

In addition, last weekend, the Ohio National Guard completed a one-day mission supporting the Ohio Department of Veterans Services with medical personnel who collected COVID-19 tests at the Ohio Veterans Home in Georgetown.

“Our members continue to step up at a moment’s notice to answer the call to serve,” said Maj. Gen. John C. Harris Jr., Ohio adjutant general. “Our state is looking to the Ohio National Guard to help and we will not let them down.”

There have been more than 900 Ohio National Guard and Ohio Military Reserve members who have served their communities during the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Missions have included supporting humanitarian efforts at 14 local food banks and regional warehouses, collecting personal protective equipment, collaborating with regional partners to identify and develop alternate care sites to expand medical capacity, and augmenting medical and operational staff at prisons.

On Friday, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) announced the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will distribute more than $314 million to Ohio skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) to help them combat the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to HHS, they will make relief fund distributions to SNFs based on both a fixed basis and variable basis. Each SNF will receive a fixed distribution of $50,000, plus a distribution of $2,500 per bed. All certified SNFs with six or more certified beds are eligible for this targeted distribution.

Nursing home recipients must attest that they will only use Provider Relief Fund payments for permissible purposes and agree to comply with future government audit and reporting requirements.

Some of this funding comes from the bipartisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which Portman supported and was signed into law by President Trump. Portman released the following statement:

“This relief funding is good news for nursing facilities across Ohio that are struggling to keep up with growing expenses during this ongoing coronavirus pandemic,” Portman said. “As we’ve seen, nursing homes are on the frontlines of care in this pandemic, with nearly 70 percent of COVID-19 deaths in Ohio attributed to nursing homes that must care for our most vulnerable in high-risk, congregate setting.

"I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure Ohioans have the resources they need during these uncertain times.”

City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when the page was blank?"