COLUMBUS, OH — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and state officials ordered all bars and restaurants closed statewide on Sunday. Carry-out and delivery will be allowed to continue, but dine-in services will be barred.
The closures will go into effect after 9 p.m. on Sunday, DeWine said. “This is a crucial time,” DeWine said. “The longer we delay, the more people will die.”
The governor will also make several changes to the state unemployment policies. Employees who do not have guaranteed paid time off at their job will be able to receive funding from the state if they are quarantined by a health professional or their job. This ruling will also apply to companies that shut down temporarily in the wake of COVID-19.
The state is also waiving the one-week delay to receive the first week of unemployment benefits. Costs for the new benefits will be mutualized. More information on the new unemployment policies can be found on the Department of Jobs and Family Services website.
Bar and restaurant owners can return unopened high-proof liquor products to the agency where they bought them, Lieutenant Gov. Jon Husted announced Sunday. This policy will extend to event organizers who may have purchased high-proof liquor for events scheduled between March 12 and April 6.
Husted said state officials are working with the federal government to offer low-interest loans to small business owners and non-profits in Ohio. The funds can be used to cover any expenses incurred by COVID-19.
“This is our first step in trying to account for the disruptions in business,” Husted said. He added that legislature will need to strengthen Ohio’s unemployment funding in coming weeks to support impacted Ohioans.
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There are now 36 confirmed new coronavirus, COVID-19, cases in Ohio, officials announced Sunday. Dr. Amy Acton, director of the Ohio Department of Health, said it is becoming increasingly difficult to track the number of confirmed cases around the state because testing is ramping up.
DeWine said officials need to keep people from grouping together to prevent Ohio hospitals from being overwhelmed. He said daycares will be closed in the future, but they are not being ordered closed now.
The governor said the danger of the virus’ spread is not only to people who are infected by COVID-19, but to people who need treatment for other medical conditions but cannot be admitted to hospitals because of the spread of the virus.
Acton said COVID-19 could peak between late April and mid-May.
“These are tough decisions. We’re inconveniencing people and making people’s lives change – but we’ve got to save lives. Everything we’re doing is to save lives,” DeWine said on Twitter.
Of the newly confirmed cases, one of the tested individuals had symptoms on Feb. 7. Acton said that person did not know they had COVID-19 and could have contributed to community spread unintentionally.
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Another newly confirmed case is an Ohio firefighter who was asymptomatic for nearly one week. Acton said their entire firehouse could be quarantined for two weeks.
“This is disproportionately going to hit the most vulnerable among us,” Acton said. She encouraged nonprofits to work to protect the homeless, the sick and others and promised the state would build supports.
Acton said every Ohioan should now assume they could be carrying the virus and act accordingly.
“This is the real thing. This is the once in a lifetime pandemic,” Acton said.
Ohioans are being urged to practice social distancing — limiting their exposure to other people — until this outbreak slows.Health officials said Ohioans should follow many of the same health and safety tips they practice during flu season to help halt the spread of coronavirus.
The Ohio Department of Health’s COVID-19 call center is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and can be reached at 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634). Workers will answer any questions about the virus and the state’s response.
Here’s Patch’s other recent COVID-19 coverage from around Ohio:
COVID-19 Have You Feeling Anxious? Try These Tips — Health officials know that the spread of new coronavirus, COVID-19, has many Ohioans on edge. To that end, the Ohio Department of Health is offering tips to help reduce anxiety.
CVS Waiving Delivery Fees For Meds: Locations In Ohio — CVS Health announced this week that beginning immediately, the drugstore chain will “waive charges for home delivery of prescription medication,” including from locations in Ohio.