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.”
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.
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.
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.