Ohioans must stay at home for all but essential work and errands until May 1, according to a new order issued by the DeWine administration on Thursday.
The new order, which takes effect 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, calls for some changes from the existing order:
• Travelers entering Ohio will be asked to quarantine for 14 days.
• Weddings may continue but receptions will be limited to 10 people.
• Retailers will have to set a maximum number of customers allowed into a store at any given time and post it.
• State parks will remain open, though the director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has the authority to take action if some parks or trails become overcrowded.
Gov. Mike DeWine said he’s establishing a dispute resolution panel to handle cases where similar businesses are treated differently in different health districts.
The Ohio Department of Health reported 2,902 confirmed coronavirus infections, including 802 hospitalized with 260 in intensive care. So far, 81 deaths have been attributed to COVID-19. Faced with limited testing capacity, Ohio is testing health care workers and those who are at high risk for developing complications from COVID-19. So, the numbers are just a glimpse of what’s happening.
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On March 12, ODH Director Dr. Amy Acton estimated 1% of Ohio — more than 100,000 people — had been infected and the infections would double every six days.
Acton and DeWine emphasized that Ohioans staying home, practicing social distancing and using good hand hygiene is slowing the spread of the virus, which gives hospitals time to get ready for the surge in cases.
“I know many of you are now unemployed. I know many people who run small businesses are worried about that small business and are you going to be able to get it started back up. I fully understand that. But we have to stay in this. We cannot let what we’ve accomplished — and we’ve accomplished a lot — we are in a decent position, a lot better than we would’ve been,” DeWine said. “What you have done is save a number of lives but we are still in this.”
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Current predictions indicate Ohio’s caseload will peak between mid-April and mid-May. Ohio State University infectious disease modelers said at a panel discussion this week that the total number of cases could hit 210,000, compared to an estimated 375,000 cases had Ohio not implemented widespread social distancing.
The state will send a survey to current and retired state license holders in health and mental health fields to ask how they’re willing to help in the crisis, Acton said. It’s part of the effort to marshal all available equipment and skilled workers to the crisis.
DeWine said despite all the efforts, he can’t guarantee that Ohio won’t see the same horrible scenes that are playing out now in hospitals in New York City.
“We still don’t know if we can avoid that, candidly,” he said.
Ohio’s unemployment claim numbers skyrocketed again this week. The state Department of Job and Family Services reported Thursday that jobless claims reached 272,117 for the week ending March 28, up 84,328 from the prior week’s record high of 187,789.
DeWine announced Thursday the creation of an economic advisory group to help with the economic recovery.
“Ohioans in all reaches of the state are already feeling the impact of the coronavirus recession,” said Policy Matters Ohio researcher Michael Shields in a written statement.
Since calling on state manufacturers to help source personal protective equipment for health care workers on Wednesday, more than 600 entities have responded, DeWine said.
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