Ohio scrambles to limit virus


‘Drastic action’ meant to save lives

Staff and wire reports



Bars, such as the canteens at the DAV/VFW on Court Street in Urbana, closed indefinitely as of 9 p.m. Sunday.

Bars, such as the canteens at the DAV/VFW on Court Street in Urbana, closed indefinitely as of 9 p.m. Sunday.


Steve Stout | Urbana Daily Citizen

Subway in Urbana is offering a special deal to blunt the trauma of new orders on restaurants.


Steve Stout | Urbana Daily Citizen

County Commission declares State of Emergency

After consulting with key personnel in the county on Monday, the Champaign County Commission called an emergency session to declare a State of Emergency due to COVID-19. This state of emergency is to last 30 days unless a majority vote of the commission lengthens this measure. County Commissioners Bob Corbett and Steve Hess unanimously voted to declare the situation an emergency. Commissioner David Faulkner was absent.

The declaration:

- Exempts competitive bidding for purchases between $50,000 and $100,000 related to responding to COVID-19, as long as three informal cost estimates are obtained

- Authorizes the county clerk/administrator to use county resources and personnel to respond to the emergency

- Requests the county Emergency Management Agency to activate the county Emergency Operations Center to coordinate response efforts during the emergency

The declaration states that responding to COVID-19 may exceed local public and private resources and that the commisioners made the decision to declare a state of emergency after consulting with the county EMA, county Homeland Security and county Health District.

The declaration was released by the county EMA, which notes that funding streams and reimbursements are contingent upon emergency declarations and that it is best to have such a declaration in place before an urgent need arises.

Dine-in at all bars and restaurants in Ohio was ordered closed as of 9 p.m. Sunday until further notice, said Gov. Mike DeWine, who is taking a tough stance on trying to stem the coronavirus, saying “if we don’t take these actions now, it’ll be too late.”

DeWine said what he called “very drastic action” was prompted by concerns from around the state about crowded bars.

He said takeout and delivery would still be allowed.

By Monday afternoon, DeWine had ordered gyms, rec centers and movie theaters closed.

Local bars and restaurants posted updates on Sunday evening after the governor’s orders were announced.

In Urbana, Brackens Pub announced it was serving its last drink by 9 p.m. Cafe Paradiso announced it is huddling with managers and employees to handle the demand for takeout orders. Paradiso owners implored customers to be sure they are free from cold/flu symptoms for at least 24 hours before entering the cafe to buy take-out orders.

For those who are preparing to cook more meals at home and practice further social distancing, grocery shoppers on Sunday evening found empty shelves in the toilet paper and cleaning aisles — and also nearly-empty shelves in the bread, flour and sugar aisles. Canned fruit was nearly gone from the grocery shelves, but Kroger in Urbana was well-stocked with fresh milks and eggs.

Kroger and Walmart in Urbana were both preparing to close before midnight, a massive change for the 24-hour stores, in order to restock, disinfect and reopen early Monday morning. Steve’s Market in the downtown area made regular posts to Facebook about the status of their continuous deliveries. The grocery parking lots were full again Monday. Patrons were remaining calm, but serious, occasionally joking with each other about who was panicking the most.

DeWine said he understood the impact on small businesses and steps would be taken to mitigate the suffering.

“What we’ve done this week is drastic action, but we’re taking these steps to save lives,” DeWine tweeted.

The governor also said it was possible that Ohio schools may be closed for the rest of the academic year.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommended Sunday night that gatherings of 50 people or more in the U.S. be canceled or postponed in the next 8 weeks because of the coronavirus.

Logan County went even further than state orders in limiting indoor social activity by Sunday evening. Logan County Health Commissioner, Boyd C. Hoddinott, MD, MPH, through the authority of the Logan County Board of Health, issued an order to close all large Logan County public gathering places, including all theaters, bowling alleys and indoor skating rinks as of 11:59 p.m. Sunday to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Places of worship are exempt but encouraged to be cautious.

The city of Columbus announced Sunday that a firefighter/emergency medical technician had tested positive for COVID-19. The firefighter has been isolated at home and 31 firefighters who had contact with the individual are being evaluated.

A look at the latest developments in Ohio:

DeWINE GETTING TOUGH

DeWine said he doesn’t know when bars and restaurants will reopen.

“How long this order will be in effect, we don’t frankly know,” DeWine told reporters Sunday afternoon. “It will be in effect as long as it needs to.”

DeWine said he understood the “brutally tough” impact on small businesses and steps would be taken to mitigate the suffering.

“Delay means more people will die,” he said. “Literally every day we delay, the data clearly shows that more people will die.”

More than that, he said, the Ohio health care system “will not hold up” for others with urgent needs, such as those with strokes or heart attacks.

“People will die if we do not make these decisions,” he said.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said an executive order would be signed to enable workers who do not have paid leave benefits to access unemployment compensation during the emergency. Others steps would help bar and restaurant owners return liquor purchased for holiday or sporting events and to allow businesses and nonprofits help through disaster loans, he said.

With numerous businesses ordered temporarily closed, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services said it had received 12,000 unemployment insurance benefit applications online as of Sunday night, compared to under 600 the same time a week ago.

A statewide group of county officials supported the state’s dramatic moves to stop the spread of the virus. The County Commissioners Association of Ohio (CCAO) said it stands with DeWine and “supports his bold, decisive leadership” in combatting the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Gov. DeWine has been a national leader in responding to the growing threat of COVID-19,” CCAO President Carl Davis said. “Ohio’s counties deeply appreciate his strong leadership and willingness to partner with counties in addressing this unprecedented challenge to our communities.”

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SCHOOL CLOSINGS, LIBRARY CHANGES, OTHER IMPACTS

DeWine says it’s possible Ohio schools may be closed for the rest of the academic year.

Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Nation” Sunday morning, DeWine cited projections that the virus may not peak until the latter part of April or May.

DeWine on Thursday ordered every school in Ohio to close for three weeks beginning at day’s end Monday. He and Health Director Dr. Amy Acton acknowledged the hardships and disruptions that the order will create but said it’s necessary to help Ohio through the crisis.

Acton issued an order banning gatherings of over 100 people.

The Champaign County Library is closing its Urbana and North Lewisburg locations beginning Tuesday, March 17 until Monday, April 6.

As of Monday afternoon, St. Paris and Mechanicsburg’s public libraries were remaining open but stopping programs that would gather people, encouraging patrons to keep their distance while at the library and imploring them not to come to the library if suffering symptoms of cold, flu or coronavirus.

The Champaign Family YMCA announced closure of its pool and fitness center following DeWine’s news conference Monday. The Y’s childcare program was remaining open, according to the Y’s Facebook page.

The Urbana Champaign County Senior Center is closed until further notice and is keeping seniors updated via Facebook.

New appointments for those seeking Tax-Aide assistance are not being taken. Those who already have appointments are being contacted concerning alternative arrangements.

The Senior Center’s Outreach program remains in operation, although walk-ins are not permitted. Call the Outreach Department at 937-653-5352 for appointments.

For more info, call the Senior Center at 937-653-6088.

The A.B. Graham Memorial Center in Conover, Miami County, cancelled all March events.

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CASES

As of 2 p.m. Monday, Champaign County had no confirmed cases of coronavirus.

As of Sunday, there were 36 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Ohio and 350 people under investigation, Acton said, but she emphasized that such cases were only “the tip of the iceberg.” There have been no reported deaths in the state.

By Monday afternoon’s report there were 50 confirmed cases in 12 counties and 14 hospitalizations. No cases were reported by Monday afternoon in counties contiguous to Champaign.

For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death. The vast majority of people recover.

The state is asking food and beverage industry members to turn in their latex gloves to the Emergency Management Agency to be rerouted and used by health professionals on the front lines of the outbreak. Dentists and staff, veterinarians and other health care providers are being asked to turn in extra gloves and masks to the EMA and delay elective surgeries and procedures. The Ohio State Dental Board recommended dental offices reschedule routine hygiene appointments and cosmetic procedures and rearrange schedules to delay elective procedures.

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STATE EVENTS:

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium joined the list of organizations announcing temporary closures amid the outbreak.

Organizers of Cincinnati’s Flying Pig Marathon, scheduled for the first weekend of May, postponed it until October.

County Commission declares State of Emergency

After consulting with key personnel in the county on Monday, the Champaign County Commission called an emergency session to declare a State of Emergency due to COVID-19. This state of emergency is to last 30 days unless a majority vote of the commission lengthens this measure. County Commissioners Bob Corbett and Steve Hess unanimously voted to declare the situation an emergency. Commissioner David Faulkner was absent.

The declaration:

– Exempts competitive bidding for purchases between $50,000 and $100,000 related to responding to COVID-19, as long as three informal cost estimates are obtained

– Authorizes the county clerk/administrator to use county resources and personnel to respond to the emergency

– Requests the county Emergency Management Agency to activate the county Emergency Operations Center to coordinate response efforts during the emergency

The declaration states that responding to COVID-19 may exceed local public and private resources and that the commisioners made the decision to declare a state of emergency after consulting with the county EMA, county Homeland Security and county Health District.

The declaration was released by the county EMA, which notes that funding streams and reimbursements are contingent upon emergency declarations and that it is best to have such a declaration in place before an urgent need arises.

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City adapting to guideldines, advises residents to do the same

Governor DeWine’s press conferences provide timely and relevant updates relating to the “Coronavirus” (COVID-19). If possible, I would advise residents to tune in whenever possible to stay up to date with current information. Please continue to follow the general guidelines of being prudent in daily activities, particularly with regard to regular and thorough sanitizing procedures and limiting unnecessary person-to-person contact (social distancing).

To that end the City is providing the following information to assist and protect, not only our employees, but you as customers of our services:

– For up to date information and specific departmental phone numbers, please visit our website at www.urbanaohio.comm under the ‘Contact us’ tab. The City’s Facebook page will also be updated as news unfolds.

– Police and Fire/EMS are our front line to handle emergency calls-for-service, so emergency calls should be directed through the Emergency Dispatch Center, and general calls for information should be directed to the respective divisions’ non-emergency numbers: Police (937) 652-4350 and Fire/EMS (937) 652-4388, or via e-mail to the appropriate individual.

– The various government offices located in the Municipal Building, including Administration, Engineering, Zoning, Community Development, Chip, Prosecutor, Court, and Probation are still open, but the public is encouraged to use telephone, or any available on-line tools to make general contact, or conduct non-essential business.

– The City of Urbana Business Office (Finance, Utility Billing, Income Tax and Human Resources), located at 225 South Main St., is suspending lobby access until further notice. All business transactions are available via the drive-thru, or the night deposit box; this includes utility payments & income tax payments. If specific information is needed, please contact the appropriate office.

– Staffing and schedule adjustments within the Division of Public Works (Water, Sewer, WRF & Street) have been made in order to control access to the operations and ensure adequate support is in place around the clock. If citizens have any special requests or questions, please call (937) 652-5102.

– With the announcement that schools will be closed for the next three (3) weeks, City Administration understands that there may be challenges for our employees, particularly those with school-age children. Our employees have been informed that if circumstances arise effecting their ability to meet their work schedule, the appropriate Department Head and Administration will ensure every reasonable effort will be made to assist; this will include utilizing available vacation, sick and personal time, adjusting work schedules or other means to accommodate individual needs. The key component of helping anyone work through their specific issue is to communicate with their supervisor and department head to discuss work schedules and possible options.

– As stated previously, The Champaign County Health District is in daily contact with the state office working to evaluate and prepare for the possibility of the coronavirus entering Champaign County. The impact of the coronavirus across the state/country is changing quickly, so please monitor the Champaign County Health District’s website https://www.champaignhd.com and their Facebook page. Links to both of these avenues are accessible from the City’s website and Facebook page.

– Additional information can be found on the State’s website, www.coronavirus.ohio.gov. , or if you have questions, call the State’s Department of Health hotline at 1-833-4ASK-ODH As new information is made available I will share it with you, but the important thing now is to follow and comply with the recommended best practices below and encourage others to do the same.

Following is a list of things you can do to help prevent the spread of disease.

– Wash your hands for 20 seconds or more with soapy water several times a day. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

– Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.

– Restrict/Avoid unnecessary person-to-person contact, which includes evaluating the need to hold/attend a meeting.

– Avoid contact with people who are sick.

– Stay home while you are sick (except to visit a health care professional) and avoid close contact with others.

– Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.

– Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces each day. Use a household cleaner according to label instructions.

– Avoid large gatherings.

– Use online transactions when possible.

– Refrain from visiting nursing homes. Most nursing facilities are closed to visitor access, with very few exceptions.

– If you have an older person in your home or someone with compromised health, such as asthma, understand that the biggest threat to them may be you bringing the virus into the home.

– If you or a loved one are older, think twice about an upcoming trip.

This is a time for our community to pull together, so please continue to look after one another, especially your neighbors and those at-risk citizens. Whenever possible, please continue to support local businesses as they work to provide their services to the community.

Info submitted by Kerry Brugger

Director of Administration

City of Urbana

Bars, such as the canteens at the DAV/VFW on Court Street in Urbana, closed indefinitely as of 9 p.m. Sunday.
https://www.urbanacitizen.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/36/2020/03/web1_VFW.jpgBars, such as the canteens at the DAV/VFW on Court Street in Urbana, closed indefinitely as of 9 p.m. Sunday. Steve Stout | Urbana Daily Citizen

Subway in Urbana is offering a special deal to blunt the trauma of new orders on restaurants.
https://www.urbanacitizen.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/36/2020/03/web1_subway.jpgSubway in Urbana is offering a special deal to blunt the trauma of new orders on restaurants. Steve Stout | Urbana Daily Citizen

https://www.urbanacitizen.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/36/2020/03/web1_CoronaVirusLogo-1.jpgSteve Stout | Urbana Daily Citizen
‘Drastic action’ meant to save lives

Staff and wire reports

County Commission declares State of Emergency

After consulting with key personnel in the county on Monday, the Champaign County Commission called an emergency session to declare a State of Emergency due to COVID-19. This state of emergency is to last 30 days unless a majority vote of the commission lengthens this measure. County Commissioners Bob Corbett and Steve Hess unanimously voted to declare the situation an emergency. Commissioner David Faulkner was absent.

The declaration:

– Exempts competitive bidding for purchases between $50,000 and $100,000 related to responding to COVID-19, as long as three informal cost estimates are obtained

– Authorizes the county clerk/administrator to use county resources and personnel to respond to the emergency

– Requests the county Emergency Management Agency to activate the county Emergency Operations Center to coordinate response efforts during the emergency

The declaration states that responding to COVID-19 may exceed local public and private resources and that the commisioners made the decision to declare a state of emergency after consulting with the county EMA, county Homeland Security and county Health District.

The declaration was released by the county EMA, which notes that funding streams and reimbursements are contingent upon emergency declarations and that it is best to have such a declaration in place before an urgent need arises.