Coronavirus: DeWine says he wants K-12 schools open in the fall

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Gov. Mike DeWine on Tuesday said he fully intends to have Ohio’s K-12 schools reopen in the fall and stressed it will be up to local school districts to determine start dates.

“The caveat to my entire answer is we don’t know where this pandemic is going, we don’t know where the virus is going. So, anything that I say could be washed away by new facts. But the goal is to have the kids back in the classroom,” DeWine said.

The Ohio Department of Health is working on guidelines for districts to allow students to return to school.

Protocols likely will be broad and to allow school districts to customize what works best for each district and school, DeWine said.

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The state health department on Tuesday reported 33,892 confirmed cases, plus 2,521 probable cases; 6,176 hospitalizations; 1,583 intensive care unit admissions; and 2,041 deaths, plus 217 deaths attributed to probable cases. The state has tested 407,450 people during the pandemic.

The number of cases has doubled over a month ago when there were roughly 18,000 confirmed and probable cases combined. The total number of cases and hospitalizations reported on Coronavirus.ohio.gov each day are cumulative — not current.

The administration also announced that hospitals could resume all surgeries and procedures but are required to keep track of their personal protective equipment supplies. Telehealth virtual appointments should be used when possible, the governor said.

DeWine expressed concern that the mass protests across Ohio the past week in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis could lead to an increase in coronavirus cases in the coming weeks.

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton discussed disparity in health care, particularly among minorities.

It is unacceptable that a person’s ZIP code on average can determine how long they live, she said. Acton said that she has taught classes on how racism is a public health issue.

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Last week, DeWine announced that starting June 8, assisted living centers and intermediate care facilities for those with developmental disabilities will be able to resume outside visitation. He also revealed a plan to ramp up testing in nursing homes.

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On Sunday, daycare facilities were permitted to reopen with smaller class sizes. Catering and banquet centers were also allowed to reopen. Protocols included keeping tables 6 feet apart, no congregating and limiting crowds to 300 people.

More details on zoos, amusement parks and other entertainment will be available on Thursday.

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