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Number of positive tests for coronavirus now at 26 in Ohio

March 14, 2020 GMT
Dr. Mysheika Roberts, Columbus public health commissioner, explains her decision to seek a public health emergency order for the city to help combat the spread of the coronavirus Friday, March 13, 2020, in Columbus, Ohio. Roberts and Mayor Andrew Ginther said the order would allow the city to enforce mandatory testing and quarantines if needed. The city has no reported cases yet. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins)
Dr. Mysheika Roberts, Columbus public health commissioner, explains her decision to seek a public health emergency order for the city to help combat the spread of the coronavirus Friday, March 13, 2020, in Columbus, Ohio. Roberts and Mayor Andrew Ginther said the order would allow the city to enforce mandatory testing and quarantines if needed. The city has no reported cases yet. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins)

CLEVELAND (AP) — Ohioans are dealing with a new reality this weekend as Gov. Mike Dewine’s order limiting most public gatherings to no more than 100 people takes root. A look at developments related to the virus that causes COVID-19 as the state tests for additional cases after confirming its first 26. DeWine noted Saturday that the coronavirus is twice as contagious as the flu and 20 times more deadly.

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TESTING

Officials said Saturday that 12 men and 14 women ranging in age from 31 to 86 have tested positive for the coronavirus, twice the number announced on Friday. Seven people are hospitalized and 264 people are being tested for COVID-19.

There have been no reported deaths in the state.

For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death. The vast majority of people recover.

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ELECTIVE SURGERY

Ohio Health Director Dr. Amy Acton and others at Saturday’s briefing asked people to postpone elective surgery because of a critical shortage of protective masks. They also noted that some elective surgeries would require a hospital stay that would further tax health systems.

Dentists and veterinarians have been asked to voluntarily give masks to medical personnel where they are most needed.

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MENTAL HEALTH NEEDS

Mental health and substance abuse treatment services will depend heavily on treatment over the telephone for now, Lori Criss, director of the Ohio Department of Mental and Addiction Services said during Saturday’s briefing. She said her department is working with the Ohio Department of Medicaid to expand remote treatment options.

Personal visits at the state’s six psychiatric hospitals have been suspended, Criss said.

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CLOSED AND CANCELED

With orders in place to close schools, universities and other institutions, the coronavirus threat has begun to affect other institutions and businesses in the state.

The Ohio Casino Commission ordered the state’s four casinos to shut down by midnight Friday while the Ohio Lottery Commission told its seven racinos to close their doors, as well.

Family-oriented institutions have also announced extended closings, including public library systems, museums and zoos.

DRIVE-THROUGH SCREENINGS

The Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals have issued a statement saying the two systems are partnering to provide drive-through COVID-19 testing. Testing for Cleveland Clinic patients began Saturday afternoon. It and will begin Monday for University Hospital patients.

Patients must have a doctor’s order to be tested.

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COPS AND COURTS

Court systems throughout the state are scaling back business.

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court in Cleveland held Saturday arraignments for the first time, along with expedited hearings to reduce the county jail population.

Courts in Franklin County, which includes Columbus, are postponing most civil and criminal cases for the next month.

Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor on Saturday said the court would remain open. O’Connor said in a release that she has sent letters to all Ohio judges that “closing courthouses and disrupting services is not a plan.”

“Each court is expected to engage all stakeholders when devising its response,” O’Connor wrote.

Local jails have begun following the lead of the state prison system in suspending inmate visits.

The Cincinnati Police Department has asked people who call for assistance to greet officers outside their residences if possible.

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LEGISLATIVE CONCERNS

The Ohio House of Representatives announced it won’t be holding any voting sessions or hearings until further notice and has ordered employees to work from home until April 3.

The Ohio Senate also told employees on Friday to work from home for the next few weeks.

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QUOTE

“We know there’s going to be some fatigue living this way. But we need to wrap our heads around that this is not a sprint.” — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine

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The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.