Cleveland Clinic Discovers Five New Cases of COVID-19 in First Day of Internal Testing

Cleveland Clinic CEO Dr. Tomislav Mihaljevic told CNBC Friday morning that the hospital system had discovered five positive cases of COVID-19 Thursday, the first day of its in-house testing process. (The remarks come at the tail end of the interview embedded above, ~7:15.)

Mihaljevic said that some of the new cases were patients who had alerted the hospital ahead of time because of known exposure, but "some of them walked into our emergency room."

These new cases, which are likely to be officially announced later Friday, are on top of five positive cases previously identified in the state: three in Cuyahoga County, one in Stark County and one in Trumbull County.

Milhaljevic said that testing would continue to ramp up locally and nationwide after the FDA has relaxed guidelines for testing. Large hospitals with sophisticated internal technology and skilled workers will be able to test many more patients in-house.

The Clinic can currently test about 500 patients per day and hopes to be at 1,000/day capacity by next week. At a local press conference Thursday, Mihaljevic said that all COVID-19 testing would be free for insured and uninsured patients. 

Positive COVID-19 cases can be expected to grow dramatically. Yesterday, Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Public Health Director Amy Acton said that at least 100,000 people in the state were likely already infected with the disease. (The 1 percent estimate may be even higher in Cuyahoga County, where there have been a concentration of positive cases. That means that at least 12,000 are probably infected in Cuyahoga County.) 

All gatherings of 100 or more people have been banned, along with visits to nursing homes and psychiatric hospitals. K-12 schools, starting Monday, will close for a three-week "extended spring break."

All these measures have been enacted to prevent the spread of the virus, and have been pursued, DeWine said, with the state's elderly and vulnerable populations at top of mind. 

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