Editor’s note: The local COVID-19 case count was 20 as of Thursday afternoon, according to numbers from the Champaign Health District. There has been 1 local death.
After two months of being closed by state orders, many local businesses spent Thursday preparing to reopen the services that are now permitted under relaxed state orders called “Responsible ReStart Ohio.”
Outdoor dining is permitted starting today at restaurants. Personal services for hair and other cosmetic needs were allowed to reopen today under strict guidelines.
“We worked all week to meet the requirements for us to take this next step in reopening. Like most everyone else, we are adapting,” said Jenni Eby of The Farmer’s Daughter in Urbana, which has erected tents on its property to accommodate outdoor diners. The restaurant will continue to accommodate curbside pickup. Some restaurants kept serving customers through takeout orders or curbside services during the state’s strict orders that kept people from dining while congregating in groups.
Lincoln & Main in Urbana already has an established outdoor area for diners. Like other local restaurants, the owners are preparing further for indoor dining to begin May 21.
“We are doing everything we can do to safely open and serve those who wish to patronize our establishment,” said Grant Glessner, owner of Lincoln & Main.
Customers of all businesses permitted to reopen today and May 21 are being asked to follow state health guidelines and individual business rules for commerce at their establishments to prevent the spread of the virus.
State health officials emphasized again on Thursday the virus is still in the population. Officials are requesting that all people remain cautious and continue social distancing measures as much as possible. State officials say the reopening of these service businesses addresses an urgent economic need in their communities and in the state.
More openings planned soon
According to the Associated Press, state officials on Thursday announced a sweeping round of plans to allow more places to reopen.
Ohio day care centers and gyms, along with activities ranging from low-impact sports leagues to horse racing to swimming in public pools, will resume this month, the state’s top leaders said Thursday.
State campgrounds will open May 21 and motor vehicle bureaus on May 26, although Lt. Gov. Jon Husted urged residents to do as much vehicle renewal online as possible.
But water parks and swimming at amusement parks are still off limits, as is gambling at racinos and casinos, which remain closed, Husted said. Horse racing will begin May 22 without spectators.
Gov. Mike DeWine was under pressure to open day care centers as much of the economy has begun reopening, with Ohioans having returned to offices, factories, construction jobs and retail stores.
The plan that opens day care centers May 31 limits preschool- and school-age children to nine in a classroom, and infants and toddlers to six per classroom. Temperatures will be taken daily, and employees must wear masks.
The reduced class size does not mean that some families won’t have spots for their children, the governor said.
“It’s certainly not our goal to have any family left out,” said DeWine, a Republican.
Ohio will use $60 million in federal pandemic relief aid to boost cleaning in day care centers and help reduce classroom size, DeWine said. Day camps will also open May 31, a boon to many families with school-age children trying to plan their summers.
It’s more important than ever for people to wash their hands regularly, wear masks and maintain distance from others, DeWine said.
DeWine made the announcements on reopenings as confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases topped 26,000 and more than 1,500 deaths were recorded. The 21-day average of case increases ticked up to 555 on Thursday.
“We’re not exactly where we wanted it to be, but we haven’t had that huge surge we were expecting either,” DeWine said.
In other coronavirus news Thursday:
Nearly 1.2 million people filed unemployment claims in the past eight weeks as Ohio’s stay-at-home order depressed the economy and led to widespread layoffs, the state reported Thursday.
For the week ending May 9, just over 51,000 people filed jobless claims, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. That’s down from about 61,000 claims filed the previous week.
The numbers announced Thursday pushed total unemployment claims during the coronavirus pandemic to almost 1.17 million, above the total number of claims over the past three years. The state says it has now distributed more than $2.4 billion in unemployment checks to more than 587,000 claimants.
Nationally, nearly 3 million laid-off workers applied for unemployment benefits last week. Roughly 36 million people have now filed for jobless aid in the eight weeks since the coronavirus outbreak began, forcing millions of employers to close their doors.
Cases and care
The number of confirmed and probable deaths associated with the coronavirus in Ohio has reached 1,534, an increase of 51 from a day earlier, state health officials said Thursday.
The number of confirmed and probable cases topped 26,000, and hospitalizations exceeded 4,700, the Ohio Department of Health said.
The Ohio Department of Health is working with hospitals on distribution of a new supply of remdesivir, a drug being used experimentally to treat COVID-19 patients.
The Health Department said a shipment from the federal government arrived Tuesday that included 20 cases of the drug, or enough to treat 100 patients.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple of weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.
Should schools reopen in the fall, daily life would include at-home temperature checks, hand-sanitizing stations, and face masks for students and teachers, according to a draft Department of Education report, Cleveland.com reported.
Desks would also be at least 6 feet apart, frequently touched surfaces like door handles and handrails would be regularly sanitized, and visitors would be limited or even prohibited under the plan.
The report is a draft and could easily change, the Education Department said.