As fast as local store owners and managers can stock shelves, the inventories fly off and into shopping carts. Toilet paper, cleaning supplies, cold medicines, milk, ground beef, sweet rolls and any other item people use to buffer themselves from the idea of discomfort are in short supply at various times.
“Coronavirus concerns” are blamed for virtually every disruption in daily life as state officials sound the alarms, limit human interaction and continue to update the constraints hourly.
The Ohio Department of Health’s daily update on Tuesday showed 67 confirmed cases in Ohio (up from 50 the day before) in 16 counties with 17 people hospitalized. Neither Champaign nor any contiguous county was part of the list released Tuesday afternoon. The list is updated each day at 2 p.m.
The Ohio election was postponed on Tuesday due to a combination of legal wrangling and statewide public health fears, leaving beleaguered Champaign County elections officials scrambling well into the wee hours of Tuesday morning only to have the final vote stopped. The Ohio Democratic Party sued Tuesday to stop Secretary of State Frank LaRose from moving the primary to June 2, as LaRose did in an order late Monday. The lawsuit says only the Legislature has that power. LaRose’s office didn’t immediately respond.
Late Monday, Ohio Health Director Dr. Amy Acton had ordered polls not to open over concerns about the coronavirus just hours before voters were supposed begin casting ballots in the state’s presidential primary.
Gov. Mike DeWine said that the decision was necessary during an unprecedented health crisis and that he fully supported Acton’s move. House Republicans scheduled sessions next week to address the primary delay.
Local activity curtailed
There is no escapism available at the Gloria Theatre, no chumming around at the local bars and clubs, no burning off nervous energy at the gyms. It’s all closed down.
Urbana University’s commencement, scheduled for May 9, has been postponed amid growing health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ohio State University and Capital University in Columbus, Youngstown State University and the University of Findlay were among those announcing the cancellation of May commencement ceremonies, saying they couldn’t comply with restrictions severely limiting the size of gatherings.
The plan at UU is to have the ceremony at a later date to be determined. Graduates will still have their degrees conferred on May 9, and diplomas are to be mailed shortly thereafter.
LifeCare Alliance, the Meals-on-Wheels provider in Champaign County, is calling for more volunteers to deliver meals to homebound seniors and people with medical challenges during the coronavirus pandemic. As of Tuesday, there were 12 open routes in Champaign County. Volunteers are always needed, but especially now. Volunteers can get started at www.lifecarealliance.org/volunteer.
Social distancing is the new normal, even as shoppers crowd into Urbana groceries and brave the virus threat to keep stocking their pantries and homes with essentials.
Restaurants, delis and food service businesses are adjusting to the new reality of selling all food to go. Some smaller boutique businesses such as Freshwater Farms on U.S. Route 68 and Let’s Eat Cake in downtown Urbana are encouraging residents to give them a chance to show why local food suppliers are essential to the micro-economy. Freshwater Farms is offering prepaid orders and a drive-thru for local food pickup, including seafood. Let’s Eat Cake is offering curbside delivery for orders taken over the phone with credit cards.
Most of Monument Square District remains open for business and is encouraging local shoppers to give the varied retailers a try and maybe even purchase gift cards for future use. However, Hair Co. The Salon and Spa announced Tuesday evening it is closing today, March 18, through March 31 due to “new guidance from local authorities” in order to support “the commitment to public health and social responsibility.”
The Champaign County Chamber of Commerce has posted to its Facebook page a spreadsheet of Urbana eateries with addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and details on what each has to offer.
About your health
Champaign Health District officials are imploring people to understand this fact: You cannot show up at the health district and get a test for the virus. That’s not how it works. According to the health district, “public health does NOT diagnose, test or treat” the virus. Anyone feeling sick or with questions about personal health must contact their health care provider or an urgent care provider. Emergency rooms should only be used for immediate life-threatening conditions. For questions about coronavirus, call the Ohio Department of Health hotline at 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.
Did you have a routine dentist’s appointment coming up? Best to check with your dentist’s office before going. Dentists have been asked by the state to return excess supplies, such as gloves and masks, so they can be redistributed through the Emergency Management Agency to other health care workers on the front lines of responding to emergency needs. Many dental services are transitioning to emergency care only until protective personal health supplies are more widely available. Until then, elective procedures in dental offices are being scaled back significantly. The goal is to “make the adjustments to provide mutual aid and relief to our partners in the medical and surgical communities.”
DeWine said Tuesday an order would be issued soon, in cooperation with hospitals, limiting surgical procedures to lifesaving and otherwise serious surgery to free up bed space for what’s expected to be a surge in cases. DeWine also said new “temporary pandemic child care centers” will be allowed for health and safety workers whose presence at jobs is needed to protect the public from the coronavirus.
About your business or your income
The Ohio Development Services Agency is working this week to qualify Ohio for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. This program provides low-interest loans up to $2 million in order to help businesses overcome the temporary loss of revenue during the state of emergency.
Non-profit organizations in Ohio will also be eligible for low-interest loans through the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.
Businesses impacted by the current public health crisis can contact BusinessHelp@Development.Ohio.gov for more information. Additional details about the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program is available at SBA.gov/Disaster.
The governor has issued an executive order, which will grant the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) with the authority to accept and grant requests for unemployment compensation suspending the normal 1-week waiting period.
This order will also give relief to applicants who are not offered paid leave through their job, as well as those who have been quarantined by a medical professional, their employer, or whose employers must temporarily close. Those who apply for unemployment under these circumstances will be exempt from the requirement that they be actively seeking work.
For more information, visit Unemployment.Ohio.gov or JFS.Ohio.gov/Coronavirus.
Paying the bills
With numerous businesses ordered temporarily closed, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services said it had received 48,640 unemployment insurance benefit applications online in just two days this week, compared to typical filings of a few hundred. Restaurants are among the hardest-hit businesses because of restrictions on dining in. The Ohio Restaurant Association says Ohio has about 22,500 food service locations with 585,000 total employees. It urged people to consider takeout and pickup options. Ohio’s investor-owned utilities suspended disconnections for customers with past-due bills.