Last updated: 1:58 PM, March 31
New information will be added below and included in our daily newsletter.
The Latest Columbus Coronavirus News
Franklin County: 281 confirmed cases. 43 hospitalizations. 2 deaths.
Ohio cases: 1,933 confirmed. 70 counties. 475 hospitalizations. 163 ICU admissions. 39 deaths. The first community spread case was identified on Wednesday, March 11.
- Columbus Metropolitan Libraries have extended the closure of all branches:
— Columbus Library (@columbuslibrary) March 31, 2020
- Last night, the FDA finally granted Battelle approval to use their new decontamination system with no limitation. The Critical Care Decontamination System is the first of its kind, capable of cleaning up to 80,000 pieces of PPE (personal protective equipment) at a time.
- Battelle and The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center have jointly developed a new diagnostic test for COVID-19. The new rapid test will allow for a faster turnaround on results, as early as five hours.
- Gov. DeWine has announced that Ohio schools will remain closed until at least May 1st.
- The White House indicated that the federal social distancing guidelines will remain in place until at least April 30.
K-12: Our original order to close school buildings was for 3 weeks. We're giving an additional order that will take this to May 1, which is a Friday. We will reevaluate as we get closer to that date. pic.twitter.com/OyFNtSK8Lu
— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) March 30, 2020
- Governor DeWine has reached out to the White House for assistance in getting Battelle’s new mask sterilization system fully approved and implemented. The system was approved by the FDA to sterilize 10,000, which is much lower than it’s capable of. The Critical Care Decontamination System can clean up to 80,000 items per day and masks can be cleaned up to 20 times.
- A total of 8 Columbus Firefighters have tested positive for COVID-19. Columbus Division of Fire Battalion Chief Steve Martin says six of the firefighters who have tested positive are currently recovering at home. Two of the firefighters are back at work after no longer being considered contagious.
- The Central Ohio Hospital Council has announced that the Greater Columbus Convention Center will be used as a surge location during the response to the coronavirus pandemic. The council said the site will be used in the event there is a surge of patients needing treatment at local hospitals.
- Dr. Amy Acton now predicts that Ohio could see up to 10,000 new cases of coronavirus per day at the disease’s peak, which is now predicted for mid-May.“As you can see, we have a long way to go,” DeWine said today at the daily press conference. “And that’s the stark reality.”
- The state of Ohio is launching a new campaign to help support local restaurants, shops, and other activities. Thus far, 250 businesses are included in the campaign and more are expected to join. You can get more information on the Support Local Ohio
- Ohio has passed a relief bill, and Governor DeWine has said he will sign it. More info on the bill can be found here at WOSU.
- A new Ohio website for coronavirus news, updates, and resources has launched, and you can view it here.
- Anyone who has masks, gloves, or any other personal protective equipment is asked to email [email protected]
- 187,784 Ohioans filed for unemployment last week. Nationally, 3.28 million filed, shattering the old record of 695k, set in 1982.
- Voting for the Ohio Primary Election has been extended through the end of April. Nearly all votes will be through the mail, so if you haven’t voted yet, please request your absentee ballot as soon as possible.
The legislature has passed a plan to bring the primary election to a close on April 28th. Now we look forward.
— Frank LaRose (@FrankLaRose) March 26, 2020
- The White House and Senate leaders struck an early-morning agreement on a $2 trillion measure to aid workers, businesses and a health care system strained by the rapidly spreading coronavirus outbreak. The relief package was approved by the Senate in a 96-0 vote late Wednesday night.
- Ohio now more than 700 cases, 116 of which are health care workers. Due to a lack of available tests, the state is limiting testing to those who are hospitalized and to health care workers. 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.
- Dr. Amy Acton says Ohio is at 60% capacity in our hospitals and ICU capacity will need to be increased by 50%, possibly necessitating the use of dorms or hotels to provide excess capacity. Ohio currently has 3,600 ICU beds.
- Governor DeWine says the peak for coronavirus in Ohio won’t happen until at least May 1st or later.
- Governor DeWine emphasized the importance of prioritizing slowing the spread of coronavirus over re-opening businesses, a stark contrast from remarks by President Trump made earlier about wanting people to return to work. It’s clear that the priority in Ohio remains keeping people safe.
The truth is that protecting people and protecting the economy are not mutually exclusive. In fact, one depends on the other. We save our economy by first saving lives. And we have to do it in that order.
— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) March 24, 2020
- GCAC is hoping to raise $100,000 to help Franklin County artists meet basic needs. More here.
- Governor DeWine is emphasizing that the stay-at-home order does need to be followed. The state is not looking to arrest or cite people, but enforcement will happen if needed:
We hope the law doesn't have to actually be applied, we hope people will follow the order. We wouldn't have issued this if it wasn't a matter of life and death. This is a matter of life and death. We felt it was in the best interest of the people and necessary to save lives.
— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) March 23, 2020
- COTA has made many changes to lines and frequency of service. Fares have still been suspended and people are being asked to avoid non-essential travel. More on the changes here.
- ODNR has announced that campgrounds, cabins, golf courses, restrooms, shower houses, playgrounds, and state park marinas at all ODNR properties will close Tuesday, March 24 to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. Outdoor spaces will remain open.
- Gov. Mike DeWine announced that Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton has signed a stay-at-home order for Ohio. The order will go into effect on Monday, March 23 at 11:59 p.m. The order does permit exceptions to staying home including leaving for health and safety, for necessary supplies and services, and for outdoor activity. You can read the full order here.
— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) March 22, 2020
- Governor DeWine is pleading with Ohioans to do all they can to stop this disease, saying he has received messages from all over the state saying people are treating this like any other Saturday morning, and further saying “So I ask all of you, before you go to bed, I ask you to ask your self have you done everything you could do to stop this from going from one person to another” Dr. Acton reinforced this message:
.@DrAmyActon: I sometimes feel that I am in a warzone, going to war, and coming home – and not understanding why everyone at home doesn't see what I see. I implore the media to go to the local level and see what is happening.
— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) March 21, 2020
- The state has now had 3 deaths, and multiple other deaths are under investigation according to Dr. Acton.
- Senior citizen centers will be shut down by end of business day Monday.
- GCAC has announced emergency relief grants for artists effected by canceled events, classes, exhibitions, and more.
— GCAC (@GCAC_Cbus) March 21, 2020
- The State of Ohio announced the first death from COVID-19.
- Federal Tax Day has been moved from April 15 to July 15, extending the deadline to file and make payments without interest or penalty.
- After trying to make carryout-only work for a few days, Cameron Mitchell has closed all restaurants and laid off thousands of staff.
- Governor DeWine has activated 300 National Guard members to assist food banks and deliver food.
Yesterday I activated the @OHNationalGuard to support food banks that are short-staffed due to #COVID19. They will be available to help food pantries that request assistance. Here is the proclamation with their specific orders. pic.twitter.com/6Hw70vkBGj
— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) March 19, 2020
- COTA has suspended bus fares for all customers. Riders are asked to enter buses from the rear.
- 111,055 unemployment claims were filed in Ohio Sunday through Wednesday.
- The city of Columbus has declared a state of emergency. You can view the video announcement from Mayor Ginther here. It sounds as if this declaration will enable the city to move more quickly purchasing needed supplies by temporarily suspending city purchasing requirements.
- The age range of COVID-19 cases in Ohio is now 2-91.
- The Ohio National Guard will be used to help foodbanks and to help hospitals put up tents for patient care. Rumors are circulating concerning Ohio National Guard, and DeWine says they are not being called up, and if they are we will know about it and it will be to help.
- Barbershops, hair salons, nail salons, tattoo shops will be ordered by the state to close by the end of the day.
- 181 BMV locations will be closed. License renewals will have a grace period, once legislation is passed. The state will ask law enforcement to not issue citations for an expired license due to BMV closure.
- Libraries will not be ordered to close – local communities will make that decision, but the state asks libraries to deliver services in ways that maintain social distancing.
- Quick hits from Governor DeWine’s daily press conference: Ohio Department of Health will be issuing an order to postpone elective and non-essential surgeries to ensure hospital beds and medical equipment will be available for the outbreak. Ohio’s hospitals are currently at 75% capacity and plans are being made to use nursing homes, hotels, closed hospitals, and critical access hospitals to handle the overflow. Ohio has received its allotment of medical supplies from the national emergency supply, but donations or latex gloves and masks are still encouraged.
- The Columbus Department of Public Health has announced the second coronavirus case in Columbus, a 23-year-old woman with underlying health conditions who is being treated at a local hospital. She has not traveled and it’s believed this is community spread.
- The Ohio State University and Capital University have announced the cancellation of May commencement ceremonies, as they are unable to comply with restrictions limiting sizes of gatherings.
- Ohio’s Roman Catholic bishops have suspended all publicly celebrated Masses through Easter on April 12.
- The Columbus Foundation and United Way of Central Ohio have set up emergency-response funds to help local charities during the coronavirus outbreak.
- Columbus City Council has voted to approve $1 million in food and rent assistance to Columbus residents affected by coronavirus.
- Ohio’s primary has been delayed. This has been an extremely messy process, updates here: Here’s What Is Going On With Ohio’s Primary Election
- Takeaway from Governor DeWine’s daily press conference: Fitness centers, bowling alleys, public recreation centers, movie theaters, water & trampoline parks are all ordered to close at the end of the day. Gatherings of more than 50 are now prohibited.
- Franklin County Municipal Court is functioning, but hearings are being rescheduled and evictions and small claims court cases will be paused for three weeks.
- Governor DeWine has announced the state will be issuing an order to close all bars and restaurants. The closures will begin tonight at 9 PM. Takeout and delivery will still be allowed. Employees will be able to file for unemployment.
- A Columbus firefighter has tested positive for coronavirus. He works at Firestation 24 serving Northland, and all other firefighters at the station are being evaluated.
- Columbus Zoo will close beginning Monday.
- Governor DeWine has shared that Ohio officials are looking at closing bars and restaurants. He also said that “odds are” schools will be closed “a lot longer” than three weeks.
- Giant Eagle and Kroger will be limiting their hours to 7 AM – 10 PM until further notice, to help with stocking and deep cleaning. 24-hour Wal-Mart locations are changing to 6 AM – 11 PM.
- It has been announced that a Columbus resident has tested positive for coronavirus, the first in central Ohio. The 49-year-old returned recently from a Carnival cruise via New Orleans on March 5th, after traveling to Cozumel and the Yucatan. He began displaying symptoms on March 7th.
- AEP is suspending power shut-offs for non-payment during the outbreak. View their announcement here.
- Columbus City Schools will be offering free lunch and breakfast to students and children who are under-18 while schools are closed. View the locations offering this service on this map.
- Daycares are not being closed by the state, but Governor DeWine is recommending removing children if able, and making plans in the event they will need to be closed.
- Governor DeWine’s daily press conference brings news that prison and jail visitation is being suspended, waivers from the federal government are being sought so that schools can continue offering free lunch and breakfast to children who need those services, and regulatory health industry relief is being requested from the federal government to ensure Ohio’s ability to stockpile health care equipment, limit person-to-person contact, and ensure hospitals are adequately staffed. You can view the press conference here.
- The Columbus Museum of Art has joined COSI and Franklin Park Conservatory in closing for the next three weeks. More here.
- Mayor Ginther has given a press conferenced and announced that Columbus city rec centers will close through April 3. Water and power shutoffs will be suspended through April 15th.
- Columbus Metropolitan Libraries will close effective 6 PM today through April 6th. Digital library resources will remain available.
- Franklin Park Conservatory has closed their doors for three weeks, starting today.
- COSI is also shutting their doors for the next three weeks.
- Ohio State, which had previously suspended face-to-face classes through March 30th, has now gone further and suspended in person instruction for spring semester. Students will finish the semester online, and people living in university housing will have to leave. More here.
- Here is the official Department of Health order prohibiting mass gatherings.
- The Columbus Clippers were scheduled to begin their season April 9th, but that has been pushed back with Minor League Baseball delaying the start of their season.
- All Ohio schools will be closed for a three-week break starting Monday, March 16th at the end of the school day.
- Mass gatherings of over 100 people have been banned in Ohio.
- The MLS has suspended games for 30 days, including games for the Columbus Crew SC.
- The Columbus Metropolitan Library remains open but has canceled all classes, programs, meetings, and events.
- The 2020 Ohio State spring football game has been canceled.
- Upcoming Columbus Blue Jackets home games will be played without spectators. Refunds to ticket holders will be offered. (UPDATE: The NHL season has now been postponed.)
- Mike DeWine announced new state rules, including limitations on nursing home visits (one per day per resident), and rules to limit mass gatherings. Further details on rules limiting mass gatherings are expected Thursday, March 12.
- The mayor of Cincinnati has declared a state of emergency.
- Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown has put forth a proposal that would require all employers to provide 7 days of paid sick leave and 14 additional days in case of a health emergency, but Senate Republicans have blocked his bill.
- Concerts and smaller events have begun to see cancellations. We have seen this in Columbus with cancellations from Zac Brown Band, the Dublin pedestrian bridge opening being postponed, and more.
Ohio COVID-19 Resources
- The state Department of Health is maintaining a webpage with up to date statistics and resources. You can find it here.
- Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center has also created a hub page for information, which you can find here.
- Ohio Department of Health is running a coronavirus hotline number, which you can reach at 833-427-5634 or 833-4-ASK ODH
- The Columbus Dispatch has turned off their paywall for coronavirus coverage. You can view their coverage here.
- This page details COVID-19 relief programs in Ohio.
What can you do to help?
First of all, ask yourself “How would you alter your behavior if someone you loved or lived with was at high risk of becoming seriously sick or dying? What if you behaved that way, even if you don’t love or live with someone in that position?”
If you are not in a high-risk population (and given the demographics of our readers, it’s likely most reading this won’t be), you can do the most good by practicing social distancing whenever able. This means working from home, avoiding unnecessary trips, and absolutely, positively staying home if you feel sick.
- If you feel called to help, now is a good time to make sure neighbors have your phone number, particularly if any of your neighbors are elderly.
- Local businesses are going to take a beating. If you have the resources, consider buying gift cards or moving some of your shopping to local businesses online.
- Donate blood, if able. The Red Cross has said that donors are urgently needed. Here is where to find local Red Cross donation centers.
Good Coronavirus News
- No quarantine on good deeds amid coronavirus (Dispatch)
- The Cleveland Clinic has developed an onsite test that can return results in just 8 hours, and is considering diffrent ways to test patients, with drive thru testing being an option.
- Many local restaurants are offering free kid’s meals to help parents during school closure including Piada, and Smoked On High.
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