Coronavirus: Stay at home order to be extended with exceptions, DeWine says

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Ohio’s stay at home order will be extended, but will have exceptions for businesses and industries set to reopen, Gov. Mike DeWine said.

The order is scheduled to end May 1.

As Ohio gets ready to start reopening, the governor said he understands that people are anxious to get going again, but that the process is a balance.

The governor laid out a layered plan to reopen earlier this week, starting with dental and veterinary offices and resuming some nonessential health procedures on May 1.

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General businesses are slated to reopen May 12, but some have announced plans to reopen sooner.

The governor said he hopes that people will follow the law.

By staggering what businesses are reopening, DeWine said it gives the state time to prepare and make sure that cases don’t suddenly see a large spike.

Starting Friday, dentists and veterinarians can resume normal operations, but should have the proper personal protective equipment before reopening.

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DeWine noted that many dentists and vets donated their supplies of PPE to health care workers, but now have requested if they can get supplies back so they can reopen.

The state prison population has decreased by 1,379 people since March 4 as the state worked to slow the spread of coronavirus in prisons, Annette Chambers-Smith, director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, said.

Some inmates received early release, including those convicted of nonviolent offenses, those with less than 90 days left in their sentence and those with at-risk health conditions.

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The state also has used judicial release and diversion programs as ways to keep the prison population down during the pandemic.

The DRC previously had a pandemic plan during the H1N1 outbreak in 2009, Chambers-Smith said.

“We didn’t just start in January or February.”

The DRC made slight adjustments in their policies due the pandemic, including using alcohol-based hand sanitizer, which previously was not allowed in prisons.

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Ohio was the second state in the country to stop allowing visitors at prisons, a move that some people saw as “excessive,” Chambers-Smith said.

About 2,000 staff are telecommuting and working from home to reduce further spread. Staff working at “hot spot” prisons are able to to a hotel to shower before going home or can stay at the hotel.

Ohio DRC employs 12,272, including some 2,000 medical workers, and incarcerates 47,820 in 28 prisons. Because of the close quarters of inmates and the huge workforce that comes and goes daily, outbreaks of COVID-19 in prisons have the potential to spread quickly throughout the populations there and move beyond the walls.

Comprehensive testing of staff and inmates has been conducted at three facilities: Franklin Medical Center, Pickaway Correctional Institution and Marion Correctional.

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So far, 5,676 inmates have been tested — 3,890 positives. Inmates are in quarantine at all but three prisons.

The Ohio Department of Health is reporting 18,027 total cases and 975 deaths connected to coronavirus in the state.

There are 17,285 confirmed cases and 898 deaths.

There have been a total of 2,522 hospitalizations, with 1,03 ICU admissions.

More than 133,000 people have been tested for coronavirus in Ohio.

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