COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio schools will remain closed through the month of April, Governor Mike DeWine announced on Monday.
DeWine had previously closed schools through April 3, now extending the closure for four more weeks. This brings the closure to seven weeks. Whether or not to extend further will be evaluated closer to that May 1 time, said DeWine.
The announcement came of the same day that officials confirmed the first death in Athens County due to COVID-19.
Officials confirmed the first death of an Athens County resident due to COVID-19 in a video and news release posted to the Athens City-County Health Department on Monday morning.
“The Athens City-County Health Department confirms today the first COVID-19 death of an Athens County resident. The health department extends sincere sympathy to the family during this difficult time. In respect for the family, the person’s identity will not be released to the public. The Athens City-County Health Department has completed contact investigations and will continue to monitor COVID-19 activity in the area,” stated a news release from the Athens City-County Health Department.
“The enemy we face is insidious, highly contagious, unseen and very worrisome. This virus requires humans to survive. If we don’t transmit it to each other, it will die.” said Dr. James Gaskell, health commissioner, announcing the death in a video posted to the Athens City-County Health Department website.
This is the second death in the region due to COVID-19 with Gallia County having previously reported a death due to the virus.
According to Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton during Monday’s news conference, a total of 27,275 test have been reported to the Ohio Department of Health, with 1,933 positive cases. There have been 39 fatalities.
Of the 1,933 cases, 345 are healthcare workers according to the numbers presented in the news conference. There have been a total of 475 hospital admissions, with 163 of those having been admitted to the ICU.
An update provided by the Associated Press gives additional information about COVID-19 developments in Ohio:
After pushback from DeWine, the Food and Drug Administration authorized Columbus-based private research lab Battelle to deploy a system in Ohio, New York and Washington state that can sanitize 160,000 face masks a day. The FDA initially approved only 10,000 masks a day.
In central Ohio, the Franklin County Public Health Department said it was accepting “home sewn masks” along with manufactured personal protective equipment.
A prison employee at the Marion Correctional Institution tested positive for the coronavirus, officials reported, marking the first such occurrence in Ohio. Meanwhile, the Ohio Supreme Court was considering a lawsuit by an inmate seeking release from Belmont Correctional Facility over fears of the virus.
More than 1,900 cases are confirmed, with 39 deaths as of Monday and nearly 500 people hospitalized, officials reported. That doesn’t reflect all cases in Ohio, because the state limits testing to those who are hospitalized and to health care workers.
Six deaths now have been linked to virus outbreaks at a pair of nursing homes in Miami County, just north of Dayton, the local health department said Monday.
Ohio Health Director Dr. Amy Acton urged hospitals to send completed tests to the state instead of private labs for faster results.
For most people, COVID-19 displays mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can be more severe, causing pneumonia or death.
The state has updated its Support Local Ohio website promoting Ohio businesses with online options across the state and allowing businesses to create their own listings.
At Miami University, officials are already considering the possibility the pandemic will prevent students from returning to campus next fall, with an email to department heads soliciting suggestions for more courses to be taught online and discussing an expected sharp drop in attendance, according to The Enquirer.
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman said he is donating two months of his Senate salary to organizations helping to fight the pandemic in Ohio. The multimillionaire Republican said he wants to help individuals and businesses struggling to stay financially afloat. The roughly $29,000 will be divided among five regional groups: the Cleveland Foundation COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund, the Columbus Foundation Emergency Response Fund, the United Way and Greater Cincinnati Foundation local nonprofit fund, the Southeast Ohio Food Bank and the Greater Toledo Community Foundation COVID-19 Response.
Planned Parenthood and two Ohio abortion clinics have asked a federal judge to stop the state from enforcing a ban on elective surgeries in a way that would prevent abortions during the crisis.
THE NEW NORMAL
Organizers postponed the annual Taste of Cincinnati food festival until July, while fashioning a “virtual Taste” for April 3-5. People are urged to order carryout, drive-thru or delivery dishes from festival participants, and bands who were scheduled to perform will play livestream concerts. Chefs will give cooking demonstrations online. T-shirts to benefit local businesses are being sold with the slogan: “Carry out, Carry on, Cincinnati.”
The Daily Sentinel managing editor Sarah Hawley contributed to this report.
Associated Press writer Andrew Welsh-Huggins provided the Associated Press portion of the information, with Associated Press writers Dan Sewell in Cincinnati and Julie Carr Smyth in Columbus also contributing to this report.