COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — While Gov. Mike DeWine and state lawmakers continue to plan how Ohio will emerge from the state’s stay-at-home order, businesses, colleges and other events are assessing their future. Here are some of the virus-related developments in Ohio:
Northwest Ohio’s Putnam County was one of the last counties in Ohio to record its first positive case. Now, less than two weeks later, the county has nearly 50 people with the virus.
Health Commissioner Kim Rieman said many of the new cases are connected to an outbreak at a long-term care facility and that they are working on contact tracing and finding people who might have an increased risk.
Some lawmakers who two weeks ago were pushing for the state to immediately restart some nonessential work around the state had pointed to the county as an area where the virus had not taken hold.
More than 15,100 cases of the virus have been reported statewide, including 690 deaths and more than 3,000 hospitalizations, according to figures released Friday.
DeWine announced a plan to significantly boost daily testing in Ohio—currently at around 3,700 a day—thanks to recent approval for reagent use and a new partnership to manufacturer up to 1 million cotton swabs. The effort will push testing in Ohio to 15,000 a day by May 6, 18,800 a day by May 13 and 22,000 a day by May 27.
The governor said this will allow a dramatic increase of testing in places like nursing homes and homeless shelters and permit Ohio to determine that workers in essential manufacturing facilities and grocery employees “are healthy and not spreading the disease.”
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.
Fifteen Ohio prison inmates and one guard have died from COVID-19, according to the state prisons agency. More than 2,000 prisoners out of about 2,500 at Marion Correctional Institution have tested positive to date, while more than 1,500 of about 2,000 have tested positive at Pickaway Correctional Institution, where nine of the inmates who died were housed. At Marion, 169 employees have tested positive, or nearly half of the prison’s approximately 350 workers.
The state says it’s reduced the Ohio prison population by 844 inmates since March 24. That’s significant because it’s the last day a Marion employee who later tested positive had worked at the facility, according to the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
The first case of a positive test for a Marion inmate was April 4. Positive cases skyrocketed after DeWine then ordered every inmate tested at Marion, Pickaway, and Franklin Medical Center in Columbus.
The 844 reduction was brought about by early releases spurred by the pandemic to ease crowding, regular releases for inmates whose sentences were up, and the state’s decision to temporarily stop taking male inmates during the pandemic, said JoEllen Smith, a prisons spokeswoman. Those prisoners are remaining in county jails until they can be admitted.
The University of Akron’s president plans to make steep cuts to its academic and athletic departments, adding there’s considerable uncertainty about the future of mid-major athletics.
Akron President Gary Miller said that school leaders will be looking at a “full reorganization” of academics that reduces the number of colleges and programs.
DeWine announced he’s providing money to allow children in foster care who are about to turn 18 to stay with their foster families during the pandemic. The money will also apply to a separate state program that helps individuals remain in foster care until they’re 21 when needed.
Directors of two of Ohio’s biggest road races say they’ll take their cues for how runners should train from medical and state officials as they look forward to events this summer.
The Capital City half marathon, originally scheduled for Saturday, was postponed until Aug. 29. The Columbus marathon is still scheduled for Oct. 18.
The marathon is hosting pre-run online meetings with runners who normally train together to encourage them before their solo runs, said director Darris Blackford.
The half-marathon’s medical director has been instructing athletes about “training and group training and how far you need to stay apart,” said race director David Babner.
In Akron, meanwhile, the city on Thursday canceled large running events scheduled for June and August.