Governor orders every school in Ohio to close for 3 weeks
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Thursday ordered every school in Ohio to close for three weeks beginning at day’s end Monday.
DeWine and Health Department Director Dr. Amy Acton acknowledged the hardships and disruptions that the order will create but said it’s necessary to help Ohio through the current crisis.
But Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost also urged people not to resort to panic shopping in grocery stores. “Look folks, you don’t need four cases of toilet paper,” he said.
A look at developments related to the coronavirus as Ohio tests for additional cases after confirming its first five.
Health officials say five people in the state have tested positive for the virus that causes the disease COVID-19. Ohio is currently testing 52 people who have shown symptoms of respiratory distress and has cleared another 30 people.
For most people, the new coronavirus 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. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus.
DeWine’s school-closing announcement covers K-12 public and private schools but not preschools or day cares. The order came as Acton, the Health Department director, issued an order banning gatherings of over 100 people. The ban is not absolute and exempts airports, workplaces, restaurants, religious gatherings, weddings and funerals and other events. Numerous cancellations preceded the announcement across the state. Cincinnati canceled its Findlay Market Opening Day Parade on March 26, a 100-year tradition on the Reds’ opening day. The Cleveland Orchestra canceled three concerts scheduled for this week, while Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame postponed the May 2 induction ceremony.
Boards of Elections have raised concerns about having enough poll workers as numerous workers have dropped out over concerns about the virus. Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s office is helping recruit state and local government employees and college students as poll workers with more than 550 signing up through LaRose’s office Thursday afternoon. Franklin County Elections Board Director Ed Leonard said central Ohio voters could be asked on the spot to serve as poll workers after voting.
The state’s Democratic and Republican parties are postponing scheduled fundraising dinners due to virus concerns. The Democrats’ event featured Congressman Joseph Kennedy III, while Vice President Mike Pence was the Republicans’ speaker.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association cancelled state basketball tournaments for boys and girls, wrestling and ice hockey, with executive director Jerry Snodgrass saying they could still be held later. Ohio State University canceled the annual football team scrimmage dubbed the Spring Game, scheduled for April 11. Both the Big Ten and Mid-American Conference basketball tournaments were also canceled.
In Cuyahoga County, judges, prosecutors and the sheriff’s office have agreed to allow as many low-level offenders as possible to reach plea bargains as a means of getting them out of jail to reduce the risk of the virus spreading through the inmate population. Nearly all Ohio’s public colleges and universities are now temporarily moving to online or remote learning, as are many of the private schools. After sharply restricting visits to nursing homes earlier in the week, DeWine said Thursday he’ll be issuing an order prohibiting all visits based on input from the nursing homes themselves. Multiple polling places have already been moved from senior centers ahead of the March 17 primary.
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