Champaign County health officials announced Monday afternoon the county has recorded its first case of COVID-19.
The case is a female in her early 30s who had not traveled. She was initially isolated and in good condition on Monday, according to the Champaign Health District – which is working to determine if any of the patient’s contacts may have contracted the virus or have become sick.
Logan County announced its first case several days ago, and other surrounding counties have also confirmed cases.
Ohio has 442 positive cases and six deaths as of Monday afternoon’s state report.
As Ohioans have increasingly sacrificed deeply and put more distance between themselves to stop the spread of the virus, local health districts have a stern message for people returning to the area after traveling: please self quarantine!
Statewide stay-at-home orders began today after being announced by Gov. Mike DeWine on Sunday. The order is expected to be in effect until at least April 6.
Ohio schools have been closed, local restaurants have been severely curtailed by new state orders mandating no dine-in service and small businesses are either struggling to stay open or bracing for closures. Returning travelers are being urged not to derail the local efforts that have been ongoing in their absence.
Champaign and Logan county health commissioners are strongly urging travelers to be mindful of what they might be bringing back into the local communities that have been hunkering down through social distancing.
“If, within the past 10 days, you have been in an airplane (a flying germ box), either domestically or internationally or have recently returned by car from New York City and were within public spaces we are strongly urging that you self-quarantine for 14 days from the day of return,” statements from both health districts said. “Within those 14 days, check your temperature daily and monitor for COVID-19 symptoms. Symptoms may be mild to severe and include a fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, dry cough and shortness of breath. We know that the virus is community spread and without sufficient testing, you need to assume that you have been exposed. These precautions will help stop the spread of any disease.”
Community responding to the call
Schools continue distributing bagged meals for the children in their districts. Teachers and librarians are finding creative ways to reach out to students displaced from classrooms, using video lessons online and encouraging creative, educational activities in the home.
Once the state of Ohio was ordered to “stay at home” as of midnight – except for obtaining life-sustaining essentials like food and medicines – the shutdown of schools and factories seemed to have no end in sight.
St. Paris Public Library was the last local library to stay open through the phases of social distancing in the state. It closed its doors at 4 p.m. Monday due to the state’s stay-at-home order.
The Champaign County Fairgrounds announced all events there are canceled through April 30. This includes the flea market, sales and clinics.
Marie’s Candies in West Liberty, which is preparing for one of its biggest seasons with Easter around the corner, closed its store but left its website open and shipping daily. Parking lot pick-up can be arranged by calling 937-465-3061. Hours for parking lot pick-up are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Let’s Eat Cake in Urbana announced it had a busy and prosperous weekend, but “will now practice social distancing” and go on hiatus for a couple of weeks, according to its Facebook page.
What’s allowed under stay-at-home order?
DeWine said the stay-at-home order includes things he’s already been asking residents to do, such as remain at home except for essential needs.“This is a health order, it’s not a health suggestion, and so we would expect people to comply with it,” DeWine said of the stay-at-home order issued Sunday.
It also includes a list of businesses that are classified as essential and allowed to stay open, he said. The order is reasonable, he said, and keeping people at home and preventing transmission of the virus can help buy time so that the state’s hospitals do not become overwhelmed, he said.
Traveling to buy food, essentials, medicine and supplies to shelter in the home will be permitted. Gas stations, laundromats, hardware stores and businesses that sell items to help people work from home will stay open. The postal service and delivery services will continue. Hotels will be permitted to stay open. Restaurant take-out and delivery of food and drink will be permitted to continue, as will food service distribution through schools for outreach of nourishing students while the buildings are closed.
What is not permitted as of today are any non-essential social mingling of more than 10 people (the exception is gathering of members of a household). Public playgrounds will be closed, but individuals are still permitted to go to public parks and outdoor recreational areas if they stay distant from each other.
“If everybody cooperates, we’re going to save a lot of lives,” DeWine said.
Daycare changes coming
Beginning Thursday, all daycare facilities must operate under temporary pandemic childcare license (maximum of 6 children per room). The Champaign Family YMCA has been approved as a Pandemic/Critical Care Child Care Center, according to the Champaign Health District. Theresa’s Gingerbread House in Urbana and West Liberty were also granted pandemic licenses, according to the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce. Child care slots for pandemic licensed facilities will be prioritized for families that include first responders and health care workers. Remaining slots will be made available after priority groups have the opportunity to sign up.
Developments at the state level
If anyone in a household shows signs or symptoms of coronavirus, the direction from the state is to quarantine the entire household.
State lawmakers likely will act soon to align the state’s income tax deadline with the adjusted federal deadline of July 15.
There is an immediate hiring freeze in state government, with the exception of jobs being used to fight coronavirus. State agencies have been ordered to identify immediate budget cuts of up to 20%.
A freeze for travel for state workers will continue and there is a freeze on new contract services with the state.
There were some technological issues with the state’s unemployment site Monday morning, however those problems are being addressed and fixed.
The state is limiting testing to those who are hospitalized and to health care workers. The Ohio Department of Health said people with suspected symptoms should call a medical provider first, but seek immediate help if symptoms are serious, such as difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) will be closing campgrounds, cabins, golf courses, restrooms, shower houses, playgrounds, and state park marinas at all ODNR properties effective today to protect the health of both visitors and staff. Public outdoor spaces at Ohio state parks, wildlife areas, forests and nature preserves remain open, including trails, dog parks and non-marina docks, but visitors should continue to practice distancing from other people.