Gov. Mike DeWine announced an extended three-week spring break for Ohio K-12 schools, as part of the state’s plan to contain the spread of coronavirus.
The three-week break will begin at the close of school Monday and will be reviewed at the end of the break, April 3.
The order includes all schools in Ohio — public, private and charter.
“We know it’s disruptive. We know it’s disruptive to the families but we have to do this if we’re going to slow this down,” DeWine said.
He addressed concerns about standardized testing in schools saying, “if we can’t have testing this year, we won’t have testing this year. The world won’t come to an end.”
While the risk of children dying from coronavirus is low, they are believed to be carriers, DeWine said.
“The steps we’re taking now will absolutely save lives,” Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton said.
“We know that 1% of the state’s population is carrying this virus today,” Acton said. “That’s over 100,000 people.”
Acton says we are slowing shutting down the structures of our society by asking people to stay home if they can.
She also called on younger Ohioans, particularly college students who no longer can attend class due to the virus, to volunteer at the polls as older citizens as more vulnerable to the virus.
Infections double every six days, she said, and it is crucial to slow it down.
“As you can see, we are in a crisis situation,” Acton said.
DeWine also announced an order that bans mass gatherings of more than 100 people.
The order include auditoriums, stadiums, arenas, large conference rooms, meeting halls, cafeterias and any other confined indoor or outdoor space.
It also includes parades, fairs and festivals.
The order, signed by Acton, does not apply to typical office environments, schools, restaurants, factories, libraries, malls and retail and grocery stores where large groups of people are together, but typically are not in arm’s length of each other.
Religious gatherings and voting locations are also not included in the order.
DeWine also discussed price gouging, saying that the Ohio Attorney General is prepared to take action on what the state calls “unconscionable prices.”
“We must treat this like it is and that is a crisis,” DeWine said.
The Department of Job and Family Services have asked that people not come into facilities, and instead to contact local agencies over the phone, the governor said.
DeWine also said to expect an order in the next few days that would bar visitors from nursing homes and assisted living centers.
Outside visitors will also no longer be allowed at state psychiatric hospitals.
He made the announcement shortly after confirming the fifth case of coronavirus in Ohio Thursday afternoon.
A 55-year-old man from Trumbull County tested positive and does not have a travel history, DeWine said Thursday.
The man has been hospitalized and did not go to work while feeling sick.
There are 52 people awaiting test results in the state and 30 who have tested negative, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
DeWine said the number of cases is expected to increase in Ohio and that experts predict the number of cases today — five — will double in six days.
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