Gov. Mike DeWine on Tuesday said the state is focusing on testing all Ohio nursing home residents and staffers for coronavirus, addressing a central battleground in the COVID-19 outbreak.

DeWine said he is launching 14 response teams of 10 people this week that will focus on testing congregate living facilities. The Ohio National Guard will swab residents at the facilities, the governor said.

“Nursing homes contain some of the most vulnerable members of our society … so I have asked my team and challenged them to work with the Ohio National Guard, local health departments and local hospitals to go after this problem,” DeWine said

The goal, DeWine said, is to test all staff members at long-term-care facilities. Residents will be tested as needed, he said. The state will test all residents and staff members of the state’s eight developmental centers using the same response teams.

Also Tuesday, Ohio’s caseload increased to 33,006 and deaths rose to 2,002, according to the Ohio Department of Health. The total cases are a 1.6% increase from Monday’s count.

Total hospitalizations statewide for COVID-19 now stand at 5,579.

Nursing homes have been hit particularly hard in Ohio, with 878 of the state’s 2,002 confirmed and probable deaths occurring in long-term care facilities.

The state will continue to provide updates weekly on testing in long-term care facilities, DeWine said.

The response teams will start by addressing the nursing homes that already have had COVID-19 cases. About 200 of the state’s 960 nursing homes have reported cases, DeWine said.

The high mortality in those facilities is the result of how contagious the virus is and not necessarily a reflection of something that facilities are doing wrong, said Dr. Amy Acton, director of the Ohio Department of Health.

“What this is going to be is a show of good will and support to our nursing homes,” Acton said of the new testing strategy for congregate living facilities.

DeWine’s decision to shift the Ohio National Guard’s focus to testing comes as the White House is reportedly considering recalling its members.

The Trump administration might end deployments of the National Guard on June 24, according to several news reports earlier this month. That would mean that many Guard members would find themselves one day short of being eligible for early retirement and full education benefits.

No official decision from the White House has been announced. But in a Memorial Day speech, President Donald Trump praised the National Guard for being “on the frontlines of our war against this terrible virus,” the Associated Press reported.

“Together we will vanquish the virus and America will rise from this crisis to new and even greater heights,” Trump said. “No obstacle, no challenge and no threat is a match for the sheer determination of the American people.”

Ohio is still behind its goal of testing, DeWine said Tuesday. The state is testing about 8,000 to 10,000 people per day, well short of the 22,000 per day the governor had set as a goal for late May.

DeWine said he thinks the numbers will improve as the National Guard begins testing in long-term care facilities, but he said that the state is nowhere near where he wants it to be in terms of testing.

“I think you’re going to see numbers get higher. … But we are certainly not satisfied with where we are,” he said.

On Tuesday, the Ohio Department of Aging announced that it has received a $1.7 million federal grant to strengthen services amid the pandemic. The grant, issued under the federal government’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, will help the department and the state’s 12 area agencies on aging to:

• Rapidly assess the needs of older adults, available services and the workforce available to deliver those services.

• Enhance accessibility — including virtual access — of services across the state.

• Fight social isolation by connecting with older adults and referring them to available services.

“This grant will improve our ability to provide needed resources to Ohio’s seniors during this pandemic,” DeWine said.

By the numbers

The following are the number of confirmed and suspected coronavirus cases and deaths in the Akron region as reported by the Ohio Department of Health as of Tuesday

Summit: 1,308 total cases (48 new) and 162 deaths (one new), per Summit County Public Health.

Stark: 697 reported cases (12 new), including 90 deaths (one new).

Portage: 316 reported cases (two new), including 57 deaths (revised downward by one death since Monday).

Medina: 307 reported cases (five new), including 19 deaths (unchanged).

Wayne: 252 reported cases (two new), including 50 deaths (unchanged).

Holmes: 28 reported cases (one new), including one death (unchanged).

Ashland: 19 reported cases (one new) with no deaths.

Tuscarawas: 321 reported cases (three new), including two deaths (unchanged).

Mahoning: 1,347 reported cases (six new), including 171 deaths (two new)

New cases and deaths were just reported in the past day and could be many days older.

Deaths per capita

Ohio cases

Cases by county

Cases per capita by county