2020 coronavirus pandemic in Ohio
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COVID-19 cases in Ohio by counties as of March 27, 2020 at 2pm
>100 confirmed cases
10-99 confirmed cases
1–9 confirmed cases
|Index case||Cuyahoga County|
|Arrival date||March 9, 2020|
The American state of Ohio was affected by the viral pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Acting on advice from Ohio's Department of Health director Amy Acton, Governor Mike DeWine declared a state of emergency on March 9. Acton issued a stay-at-home order effective March 23. As of March 27, 2020, Ohio had 1,137 confirmed cases of the virus across 61 counties. There were 276 cases of COVID-19 that resulted in hospitalization and 19 cases that resulted in death. That same day Acton projected Ohio cases to peak in mid-May at 10,000 per day.
Spread of virus
On March 9, Governor Mike DeWine reported Ohio's first 3 cases in Cuyahoga County, a couple who had returned from a Nile River cruise, and a man who had returned from annual conference in Washington, DC where other cases of coronavirus had been reported. Two days later, a fourth case, and the first instance of community spread, was confirmed by DeWine in Stark County.
By March 13, there were a total of 13 cases, with 159 others under observation. Within a week the first death was announced. Mark Wagoner, Sr, a prominent Toledo attorney and friend of DeWine, died March 19.
By March 23 had a cumulative 442 COVID-19 cases, 6 of which resulted in death.
By March 27, there were 1137 cases, 276 hospitalizations, 107 IC admissions, and 19 deaths.
|Total OH cases||1,137||19|
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine was one of the first state governors to "sound the alarm" about the coronavirus threat, taking action before Ohio had many confirmed cases. Axios called him "among the leading governors in the country sounding the alarm about the threat of the coronavirus." The Washington Post called his and Acton's response "a national guide to the crisis", pointing out numerous occasions when moves taken by Ohio were soon followed by other states. The Hill said he'd "been one of the most aggressive governors in responding to the pandemic".
On March 3, when the state had no confirmed cases, DeWine cancelled the Arnold Classic, a move which the Washington Post said seemed radical at the time. On March 5, when the state still had no confirmed cases, DeWine and Acton held a summit on COVID-19 preparedness for public health officials in the state.
DeWine declared a state of emergency on March 9 while the state had only 3 cases.
On March 12, The Ohio State University announced that all undergraduate students living in university housing would be required to return to their permanent home residences, or a non-campus or alternative housing arrangement and that the online class format would be extended to continue for the remainder of the spring semester. That same day DeWine announced that all schools from K-12 would close for a 3-week break, starting March 16; he was the first governor to announce statewide school closings. The Ohio Department of Education updated their guidelines for ensuring schoolchildren received meals, announcing that each district would make independent decisions about providing reduced and free breakfast and lunch to students during the break but encouraging districts to ensure needs were met and stating the department would continue to reimburse districts for meals served during the closure.
Also on March 12 Ohio Department of Health director Amy Acton instituted a ban on gatherings of more than 100, with exemptions for airports, workplaces, restaurants, religious gatherings, weddings and funerals. Despite having only thirteen confirmed cases at the time, Ohio officials were predicting that there were over 100,000 cases in the state. Department of Health director Acton compared the small number of cases to "seeing a star and knowing that light is a moment from the deep past" as she argued for Ohioans to take steps to prevent further infections that could overload the state's hospitals. State Representative Emilia Sykes called Acton "the real MVP of Ohio's coronavirus response."
DeWine and Acton on March 14 recommended Ohioans postpone elective surgeries.
DeWine and Acton ordered the closure of all bars and restaurants starting 9:00 PM EDT March 15, 2020, saying the government "encouraged restaurants to offer carryout or delivery service, but he said they would not be allowed to have people congregating in the businesses." DeWine said he was "concerned that with St. Patrick's Day coming up Tuesday, people would ignore warnings and go out to bars." Closing of the state's estimated 22,000 restaurants was expected to affect some 500,000 workers. DeWine instituted a liquor buyback program and expanded Ohio's unemployment insurance to cover laid-off restaurant workers. The state waived the qualifying waiting period as well as the requirement that individuals receiving jobless benefits must seek new employment. The action also was extended to workers who are under quarantine or those who work in health care. DeWine announced his intention to close daycares and recommended parents remove their children from daycare if possible.
DeWine said of the closings:
Establishments can stay open for carry-out and delivery. What we can't have is people congregating and seated. Every day we delay, more people will die. If we do not act and get some distance between people, our health care system in Ohio will not hold up. The loss won't only be those impacted by COVID19, but the danger is also to everyone else who needs hospital care for other issues."— Mike DeWine
When our hospital systems are overwhelmed, that means if you are having a birth that you are planning, if you are in a car accident and need your hospital, if you have a stroke or an MI, even if you never get coronavirus, people in this country can die from something other than coronavirus.— Amy Acton
On March 16 DeWine banned gatherings of more than 50 people and on March 17 he ordered that all elective surgeries be postponed; controversially, the state government indicated that this included abortions. On March 18, DeWine announced that 181 BMV locations will close until further notice. Five will stay open to process commercial driver license applications and renewal. DeWine asked the state legislature to pass a grace period for people whose licenses expired. Barbershops, salons, and tattoo parlors closed. Businesses that do stay open will have to take every employee's temperature every day before they start work and send anyone with a temperature over 100.4F home; DeWine warned that if businesses did not comply he would close all nonessential businesses. Mayor Andrew Ginther declared a state of emergency in Columbus, Ohio.
On March 19 Governor DeWine signed state active duty proclamation that will activate 300 personnel from the Ohio National Guard to help with humanitarian efforts. On March 20 DeWine ordered senior citizens centers to close by March 23. The next day he closed adult day services serving more than ten people at a time, saying he had delayed closing them until ensuring provision had been made to care for those served in them.
On March 22, Acton issued a statewide stay-at-home order to take effect from midnight on March 23 to through April 6, requiring the closure of nonessential businesses. DeWine ordered most childcare facilities to close beginning March 26. The State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy approved restrictions on the dispensing of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19.
DeWine said that because of the economic fallout from the closures, the state would need to slow down the rate of spending...rather dramatically," announcing on March 23 a hiring freeze for the state, a freeze on new contract services, and a continuation of the freeze on state employee travel. He asked cabinet members to find budget cuts of 20%. According to Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted, Ohio would at the request of the Trump administration desist from publicizing unemployment figures.
Acton on March 24 estimated that Ohio was 7 to 14 days behind New York state, which at the time was overwhelmed. On March 26 Acton announced that 17, 316 Ohioans had been tested. On March 27 Acton said the state was at that time expecting cases to peak in mid-May at 10,000 new cases per day.
Effectiveness of government response
On March 26 Acton said that the measures implemented in Ohio had decreased the impact on the state's healthcare system by 50 to 75%.
Ohio's 2020 primary elections were scheduled to be held Tuesday, March 17. DeWine, Acton, and Secretary of State Frank LaRose held an afternoon press conference on Monday, March 16 to cover precautions being taken for the next day's primary election. LaRose issued an order to county boards of election allowing curbside voting.
DeWine recommended pushing the primaries into June but did not think he had the authority to change the date. DeWine and LaRose sought a court order to close down the elections, having former Ohio Department of Aging Director Judith Brachman file a suit in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to delay the election, but Judge Richard A. Frye denied it, saying it would set a "terrible precedent" and would represent a judge rewriting election code hours before an election.
Acton, who according to the Columbus Dispatch "has enormous powers during a health emergency", eventually announced at 10:08 pm that polls would be closed as a "health emergency." DeWine announced that LaRose would "seek a remedy through the courts to extend voting options so that every voter who wants to vote will be granted that opportunity."
A suit was filed in the Ohio Supreme Court to overturn Acton's action by Perrysburg attorney Andy Mayle on behalf of a candidate for a Wood County Common Pleas judgeship, Corey Spiewak. The court ordered the state to respond to the suit by 1:30 am Tuesday, saying that "Due to exigent circumstances, this matter will be decided on the complaint and answer. No requests or stipulations for extension of time shall be filed, and the clerk of the court shall refuse to file any requests or stipulations for extension of time. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and Solicitor General Benjamin M. Flowers filed an answer on behalf of LaRose. A decision denying the writ was issued by four justices. The three who did not participate in the decision were Judith French and Sharon Kennedy, both of whom were running for re-election, and Pat DeWine, who is the governor's son.
According to Acton, as of March 24 Ohio had 3600 ICU beds and would need to increase that capacity by 50%. In Ohio about 26% of patients require hospitalization and about 11% need intensive care. As of March 24, Ohio hospitals were at 60% of capacity. In southwest Ohio, hospital executives said they could increase capacity by 20% to 50%. Executives in northeastern Ohio said they could increase capacity by 1000 beds if needed.
Acton said on March 24 that Ohio was converting anesthesia machines to respirators, considering which other buildings could be converted into makeshift hospitals, and determining how to safely reuse personal protective equipment such as masks.
NPR reported on March 24 that "Almost 140,000 people filed for unemployment benefits in Ohio last week compared with fewer than 5,000 a week earlier."
- Bowling Green State University announced on March 10 the closure of most in person classes, leaving only some residence halls and critical research activity occurring on campus. Bowling Green State University Dining Services continues to operate for the remaining students, in part by sending deliveries by robots, which are then sanitized after use.
- Case Western Reserve University announced a move to online courses on March 10, encouraging students who had left for spring break to stay home. The virus prompted the university to make testing for the SAT or ACT optional for applying students.
- Columbus State Community College canceled classes through March 22. Since re-opening on March 23 classes are online.
- The University of Dayton canceled in person classes on March 10, switching to remote learning. This resulted in a block party of over 1,000 students, which was dispersed by riot police. A potential agitating factor was the less the 23 hours students had to move out of university housing and find new accommodations.
- Mount Vernon Nazarene University announced on March 10 the transition of classes to an online format by March 16 after 19 students came back from spring break in Italy.
- John Carroll University announced they would close in person classes on March 10th, suspending classes immediately that week.
- Kent State University announced on March 10 that they would be moving in person classes online until April 13, with residence halls initially remaining open. After a university employee came into contact with someone infected with Coronavirus, the University closed its residence halls. On March 23 Kent State canceled the 50th commemoration of the Kent State shootings.
- The University of Toledo announced on March 10 that they would be switching to online learning. The University of Toledo limited visitor access to the University Medical Center, except to see patients receiving End-of-life care.
- Youngstown State University moved all classes to an online format, and asked students not to return to campus following an extended spring break.
- Ohio University moved classes online on March 11, and asked students who had left campus to wait several weeks before returning, and to seek authorization before doing so.
- The University of Cincinnati suspended in person classes on March 14. The University Medical Center set up temporary tents to handle patients with respiratory issues.
- Ohio State University moved all in-person classes to an online format from March 9 through the remainder of the semester.
- On March 11, Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU) suspended in-person classes until March 29. Classes were canceled on March 16 and 17 to give faculty time to prepare for the new online system. On March 13, in-person classes were canceled for the rest of the semester.
- The Catholic Conference of Ohio suspended all public Masses in Ohio from March 16 through Easter at the earliest, dispensing with the obligation to attend Sunday Mass through Easter.
- The Genoa Baptist Church of Westerville, Ohio switched to a drive in format.
- The Bishop of the East Ohio conference of the United Methodist Church urged the temporary closing of Methodist churches.
On the restaurant industry
The closing of restaurants and bars affected 22,000 restaurants across the state and 500,000 workers. On March 20 a group of Cincinnati restaurateurs called on the federal government to provide a $225 billion bailout to the US restaurant industry.
Most of state's sports teams were affected. Several leagues began postponing or suspending their seasons starting 12 March. Major League Baseball cancelled the remainder of spring training on that date, and on March 16, they announced that the season will be postponed indefinitely, after the recommendations from the CDC to restrict events of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks, affecting the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds. Also on March 12, the National Basketball Association announced the season would be suspended for 30 days, affecting the Cleveland Cavaliers. In the National Hockey League, the season was suspended for an infinite amount of time, affecting the Columbus Blue Jackets.
In college sports, the National Collegiate Athletic Association cancelled all winter and spring tournaments, most notably the Division I men's and women's basketball tournaments, affecting colleges and universities statewide. On March 16, the National Junior College Athletic Association also canceled the remainder of the winter seasons as well as the spring seasons.
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Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said in his update Sunday Dr. Amy Acton is ordering a stay at home order or shelter in place order for all Ohioans. The order is in effect beginning midnight Monday and is in effect through April 6. … DeWine said it is time to close most daycares, as well. All childcare centers, beginning on Thursday, must operate under a Temporary Pandemic Child Care license.
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