COVID-19

Everything You Need To Know About Coronavirus In Columbus

Last updated: 1:30 AM

New information will be added below and included in our daily newsletter.

The latest:

May 28:

  • Beginning June 8, outdoor visitors will be allowed at certain long-term care facilities around the state. “We now have now have gone on several months and we know that it’s becoming more and more difficult for people,” DeWine said during a press conference. “They’ve been away from their relatives. We know this causes a great deal of heartache.”

The Columbus and Ohio COVID-19 numbers:

Previously:

May 26:

  • Gov. DeWine announced that as part of a new initiative, all staff at nursing homes will be tested for COVID-19. This will better help congregate living facilities to slow and prevent the spread of coronavirus through their staff and residents.

  • Gyms and other fitness centers were able to resume business on Tuesday. Around Columbus, some local gyms have taken social distancing precautions seriously including removing and spacing out equipment, instituting new sanitization protocols, canceled classes, and changing the flow of traffic throughout the gyms.

May 25:

  • The Ohio Department of Natural Resources announced that some trails in Hocking Hills will reopen in mid-June. Modifications were made to trails that allow traffic to be one way, which helps eliminate the issue of social distancing while passing other hikers on the trail. You can read more about which trails will be open when right here.

May 21:

May 20:

  • Heads up if you filed for unemployment: the company responsible for building a new filing system had a data breach and your personal data was compromised. They’re offering credit monitoring services to make up for it, at least for now, before the inevitable lawsuits. More here.
  • Worthington Pools will not open this summer. Regardless of state restrictions, it is looking like certain areas of life will face difficulties reopening because of the losses that may be incurred. Hilliard pools are discussing a season that would have losses estimated in excess of a half-million dollars. More here.
  • Franklin County Public Health has apologized after advising African Americans to avoid face coverings “associated with gang symbolism”. More here.
  • Perhaps in a preview of what will happen with the Ohio State Fair, the Franklin County Fair has announced that the fair will go on, but there will be no midway, rides, vendors, or commercial activities. More on the changes here.

May 19

  • Personal health restrictions in Ohio are now voluntary. More on the new changes here.
  • DeWine says Ohio has flattened the curve: DeWine said that he’s revising and renaming the stay-at-home order, which is in part called Ohioans Protecting Ohioans.

    “And so now we’re moving from orders to strong recommendations,” he said. “This is a new phase in our battle against the virus.”

    DeWine said that the R0, also known as R-naught or transmission rate, has decreased from one infected person infecting two people to around one infected person infecting one. The state was able to flatten the curve, he said.

    “Since the original stay-at-home order, a lot of has happened. our orders have evolved and the circumstances have evolved in Ohio as well,” he said. “It’s time for our orders to reflect the reality of where we are today.

  • Governor DeWine says we are now transitioning to new order: “Ohioans Helping Ohioans”:

  • Pelotonia will not be doing a group ride this year, and will instead be “redefining” the event, offering participants the opportunity to participate whereever they are. More details here.
  • Annie Glenn, wife of Ohio senator and astronaut John Glenn, has passed away from COVID-19. She was 100 years old.

May 18

May 17

  • Governor DeWine reacts to situations like the one seen this weekend at Standard Hall in the Short North:

  • Ohio prisons remain a serious problem on both public health and humanitarian levels:

May 14:

  • Columbus city government today shared their plan for how they will be spending federal CARES act funds. Testing, personal protective equipment, EMS response, shelter & food assistance, small business support, and rental assistance are where the money will be spent. More details here.
  • Governor DeWine admits that Ohio is not where he had hoped it would be:

  • Gyms and fitness centers will be allowed to reopen May 26th “if they can meet safety protocols”.
  • Campgrounds will be allowed to reopen May 21st, also on the condition of meeting protocols.
  • The BMV will be opening for selective services beginning May 26th. People are encouraged to continue using the online portal when possible – OPLATES.com.
  • Childcare centers will be re-opening May 31:

  • Total unemployment claim number for Ohio during the pandemic now stands at 1,169,694 after 50,548 more Ohioans filed last week. Over 36 million people have filed nationally over the last two months.

May 13:

  • Families with children who receive free or reduced lunch at school are now eligible for the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program. Families will receive roughly $300 – more details here.
  • Self-employed, independent contractors and 1099 workers can finally apply for jobless benefits. The website for doing so has gone live – visit here.
  • More cancellations and movement on summer events: Gahanna has officially moved their 4th of July fireworks to Labor Day, Groveport has canceled their 4th of July celebration, and so has Clintonville. (Clintonville’s might be permanently done.)

May 12:

  • Although they weren’t originally scheduled to reopen this week, Gov. DeWine announced that Tattoo/piercing Parlors and massage locations will be able to open on May 15.

  • About 850,000 Ohio children who receive free or reduced-price meals at school will soon receive money to buy food through the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) announced. The program is funded through the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act. “We know families are struggling right now, balancing work or career searches, distance learning, and caring for families,” said Governor DeWine. “Hopefully, this additional assistance will provide more choices for families.”

May 11:

  • Although several businesses are reopening this week, the governor has yet to make a decision regarding childcare in the state. The topic has come up repeatedly at the daily press conferences, but the governor said he won’t be making any announcements until there’s a firm plan in place.

  • Two studies released earlier this week by The Ohio State University researchers are helping officials understand the unemployment crisis caused by the pandemic. The studies come at a critical time when states are weighing the economic impact of the pandemic against the ability of citizens to remain safe.

May 10:

  • Cancellations: 4th of July fireworks and parades have been canceled or postponed (Labor Day?) in Upper Arlington, Whitehall, Worthington, Reynoldsburg, New Albany, Dublin, and Hilliard. Canal Winchester has decided not to open their pool for the 2020 season.

May 7:

May 6:

  • Republicans in the Ohio House of Representatives have passed a bill to limit the authority Dr. Amy Acton, limiting stay-at-home orders issued by the Ohio Department of Health to 14 days. The bill will go to the Senate for a vote, but ultimately, representatives from Governor DeWine’s office have said he will veto the legislation.

  • The Ohio Department of Health is hiring contact tracers to help in the fight against COVID-19. Non-manager positions start at $18.59/hour and most of the work will be done remotely. If you’re interested in applying, you can do so here.

May 5:

  • Governor DeWine’s administration has set up a portal for businesses to report employees who refuse to work because of fear of sickness so they can be denied unemployment. Ohio’s unemployment system has been virtually unusable at times for workers needing assistance. The URL for reporting workers hesitant to return to work reads “covid-19-fraud”.
  • Plans for fall schooling are underway, and Governor DeWine said today there are options on the table that would include two days a week in-person supplemented by online learning. This action would allow schools to divide a student population in half so schools would have fewer students in buildings at any given time. More here.
  • $775 million in budget cuts have been announced by Governor DeWine following the decimation of government tax receipts. Cuts will includeK-12 school basic aid, $300 million; Medicaid health care for the poor, $210 million; higher education, $110 million; other agency spending, $100 million; and other education items, $55 million.” State tax revenue for April was $776 million short of the estimates used to build the state budget.
  • New closings: Hilliard has canceled Memorial Day service and their pools will be closed this summer. Grandview Heights has done the same. Franklin County is currently prohibiting garage and yard sales.

May 4:

  • As part of an effort to expand testing capacity, the Ohio Department of Health has issued new guidance on prioritizing available tests, including testing those in congregate living situations like nursing homes, homeless shelters, and juvenile detention facilities.

  • BMVs in Ohio are planning to reopen, some as early as later this month. In addition to setting appointments online, the facilities will also be taking additional social distancing measures and installing cough/sneeze guards in areas where employees deal with customers.

May 3:

May 1:

  • If you are missing theatrical movies, South Drive-In will be reopening soon. Here is their message and plan.
  • The governor said in press conference today, in response to a question about summer, that people will “have to make decisions for themselves in the future” and that while we are all mitigating risks the danger will still exist.
  • Statehouse protests have become a daily thing with dozens of people showing up with signs running the gamut from anti-semitism to anti-choice to COVID-19 related messages. Now we see harassment of journalists:

  • Ohio has extended some stay-at-home rules in a new order called “Stay Healthy and Safe at Home”. This functions as a recognition that Ohio is entering a new phase, and has exceptions to the previous order. Gatherings of more than 10 are still prohibited. You can read the full text of the new order here.

April 30:

April 29:

  • The Ohio Department of Education issued guidelines for Ohio schools on how to handle graduation. Some suggestions include drive-thru graduation, single-family graduation, and virtual ceremonies.

  • Although the governor is not mandating that all Ohioans wear masks in public, he and the Ohio Department of Health are encouraging the behavior.

April 28:

April 27:

  • Governor DeWine announced his detailed plan to reopen Ohio. The process will be gradual and will not include all businesses. You can read the full plan here.

  • The federal government laid out guidelines for testing around the country. The new testing targets would ensure states had enough COVID-19 tests available to sample at least 2.6% of their populations each month — a figure already met by a majority of states.

April 26:

  • Gov. DeWine is expected to announce plans to re-open Ohio on Monday afternoon. The plans were being finalized over the weekend as the state attempts to balance public safety and the economy.

  • From virtual learning to working from home, we are more dependent on the internet than ever before. That importance is shedding a light on the connectivity issues that people all around Ohio are dealing with. With the potential for online school and working from home continuing, state officials are under increasing pressure to make sure that all Ohioans have access to the internet. The state has launched the Broadband Ohio office to help deal with the issues, headed by Lt. Gov. John Husted.

    “This pandemic makes it very clear that this is no longer a luxury,” said Husted. “It is a necessity in the modern world and we need to create the public private partnerships to bring that to reality as quickly as we can to as many people as we can.”

  • The ongoing pandemic has cost Ohio’s colleges hundreds of millions of dollars. With the future of on-campus learning uncertain, many institutions are exploring budget and personnel cuts in an attempt to weather the storm.

April 23:

  • The two worst hot spots in the country are now Ohio prisons. Marion is #1, and Pickaway Correctional Institution has grown to #2.
  • The week’s unemployment numbers are in, and jobless claims nationwide were up 4.4 million. In Ohio, 109,369 applied for unemployment benefits in the last week, which has the total nearing 1 million (964,566) since March 15th.
  • The plan for re-opening Ohio will be shared on Ohio. Governor DeWine said today that Ohio is in accordance with the federal administration’s plan, but this process will be “an Ohio-based process.”

April 22:

  • The governor announced the first positive case of COVID-19 among the juvenile corrections population. The patient was isolated on Monday evening after exhibiting symptoms.

  • The Health Department is easing restrictions that were put in place on elective surgeries around the state. “Patients must be informed of the risk, of course, of contracting COVID-19, and that impact during the post-operative recovery process,” said Gov. DeWine.
  • The Governor took the opportunity on Wednesday night to condemn anti-Semitic protestors who were at the statehouse over the weekend, as well as condeming State Sen. Andrew Brenner (R) who likened Dr. Amy Acton’s actions during the pandemic to those of Nazis of World War II.

April 21:

  • A Columbus homeless shelter dedicated to serving those with COVID-19 is up and running. The shelter can hold up to 300 people in isolation, but there are currently only 11 residents. Officials expect that number to increase but hope that it won’t. “I hope we don’t have to fully use these facilities, but what we’ve done is stand them up and waiting, just like our convention center is ready and waiting if that is needed for the surge,” said Community Shelter Board director Michelle Heritage.
  • The path to reopening Ohio will be a gradual one. Ohio officials have maintained that opening up the economy won’t be like a flick of a switch, and Dr. Amy Acton reiterated that point during the daily press conference. “You start back out into society by doing the lowest risk things first, watch how we deal with the spread of infection, then turn the dial a little more,” she explained.

April 20:

  • Gov. DeWine announced that Ohio students would continue studying remotely through the end of the school year.

April 19:

April 16:

  • Ohio will begin the slow process of reopening on May 1:

  • 5 million more jobless claims were made last week, bringing the total number of unemployed to 22 million. (link) Ohio residents filed 157,218 claims, down 68,973 from the prior week. How much of that drop can be attributed to an unreachable system? More: Ohioans Desperate To Reach Unemployment Hotline: ‘It Literally Consumes Everything I Do’
  • The state has confirmed 836 positive cases in nursing homes.
  • The Memorial golf tournament has been rescheduled for July:

  • April 15:

    • Mayor Ginther is working with public officials and Gov. DeWine on a plan for economic recovery in Columbus after the coronavirus pandemic. He stated that the process can’t be rushed, stating “The last thing that we wanna have happen is have such great success in slowing the spread, not overwhelming our health systems, and not losing more of our neighbors to this deadly virus, to have a resurgence come back in the summer because we rushed back into it.”
    • Although protestors continue to call for the state to re-open, Gov. DeWine continued to emphasize the importance of not rushing the process.

    April 14

    • To protect first responders, Dr. Amy Acton announced a new order that requires local health departments to provide to their jurisdictions’ dispatch agency or agencies the names and addresses of COVID-19-positive individuals. By knowing in advance if they will be interacting with someone who has tested positive, first responders will be better prepared when they arrive at a scene with appropriate protective gear. 

    • The Columbus Convention center has been transformed into a 1,000-bed field hospital to treat COVID-19 patients should the need arise.
    • The Ohio Office of Small Business Relief has provided aid to 1,300 businesses in the state so far. For help, businesses can visit coronavirus.ohio.gov/businesshelp.
    • Although people are growing restless with the stay-at-home order, Gov. DeWine continued to stress the importance of social distancing in the fight against coronavirus.

    April 13

    • Nursing homes will now have to notify residents and family members within 24 hours of a positive test among staff or residents, a requirement that incredibly did not exist previously.
    • A $5 million block grant from TANF has been issued by the state to support foodbanks, and efforts to combat homelessness:

    • Dr. Acton states masks may need to be used for the next year:

    • President Trump has said this week that only the federal government can make the decision on when to reopen business in individual states, which is an interesting constitutional interpretation. Mike DeWine sidestepped Trump’s Tweets (as he normally does):

    • COTA is now requiring customers wear masks. They are also asking people to limit riding to essential travel only. More on the policy change here.
    • The Columbus Library system has furloughed 609 part-time and full-time employees. They employed 846 people in total.
    • The New York Times has a fascinating in-depth look at Battelle’s mask sanitizing machine.
    • ODOT has a new food truck permit available that will allow food trucks to serve at rest stops for workers in the trucking industry.

    April 9:

    • There were many cancellations and postponements this week, including Comfest (not definitively postponed or canceled as of yet), Pride (moved to October 3rd), and Origins (moved to October).
    • Governor DeWine seems to understand that some people are getting antsy (there were protests today at the statehouse) and promised today that a “fairly sophisticated” plan is being made and will be shared in the next week on the process for reopening the state:

    • Wifi hotspots around the state have been upgraded and locations can be found on Ohio’s coronavirus portal. Wifi can stil be accessed in the parking lots of libraries, even though they are closed.
    • Unemployment numbers have become a grim weekly milestone. This week it’s 226,007 unemployment filings in Ohio, along with 6.6 million nationwide. We’re now up to nearly 700,000 filings in Ohio and more than 17 million nationally in just the last three weeks.

    April 8:

    • While initial projections were seeing Ohio with nearly 10,000 cases per day at peak, efforts to flatten the curve have paid off. The latest projections show a peak of 1,600 new cases per day at peak. “You have squashed this and you have stretched it,” Acton said, pointing to the blue curve — a projection of Ohio’s peak with mitigation efforts. “Honestly, this is you. This is what you have done. This is how you have saved lives.”

    • In Ohio, outdoor activity is still allowed during the Stay-At-Home order. But it’s important to remember that social distancing still applies, even when outside.

    April 7:

    April 6:

    • At midnight, the new stay-at-home order officially goes into effect. It requires some changes, such as retailers limiting the number of people in stores at one time, self-quarantine instructions for those returning from outside of Ohio, the prohibition of organized youth and adult sports, and more. You can view the full order here.
    • Kroger and Giant Eagle have joined other stores in following Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s order to limit the number of customers shopping in retail stores at a given time to stop the spread of COVID-19. Both stores will limit customers to 50% of the building capacity at any time.
    • Now that masks are being encouraged for everyone going out in public, it’s important to know how to properly wear and take care of your own personal protective gear. Joseph Gastaldo M.D. of infectious diseases for OhioHealth breaks down the dos and don’ts of wearing masks and gloves here.

    April 5:

    • The Ohio Department of Health is asking for urgent blood donations. For more info about donating, visit Redcross.org.

    April 4:

    • The CDC now recommends that all Americans wear a cloth face covering when going out in public.

    • Governor DeWine signed an order expanding telemedicine options for healthcare providers to include mental health services, saying “Mental health is just as important as physical health, and in this time of social distancing and stay at home orders, we are trying to ensure that those who need services can access them without leaving their homes.”

    April 3:

    April 2:

    • Comfest has made the decision to not have their festival in June, leaving open the possibilty of rescheduling:

    • The stay-at-home order has been extended to May 1st:

    • People traveling to Ohio are now being asked to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival:

    • Ohio jobless claims are up to 468,414 in the last two weeks, more than the entire year of 2019.
    • The Columbus Arts Festival has been canceled for 2020:

    April 1:

    • Dr. Acton attempts to manage people’s expectations:

    • Dr. Amy Acton has signed an order banning hospitals from sending tests to private labs, in an effort to avoid the situation in California that has seen tens of thousands of tests pile up while private labs like LabCorp and Quest continue accepting tests beyond their output capabilities.
    • Ohio State has announced that all summer courses will be held online:

    March 31:

    March 30:

    • 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.

    March 29:

    • 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.

    March 27:

    • 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
    • website.

    March 26:

    • 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.

    March 25:

    • 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.

    March 24:

    • 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.

    March 23:

    • 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:

    • 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.

    March 22:

    March 21:

    • 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:

    • The state has now had 3 deaths, and multiple other deaths are under investigation according to Dr. Acton.

    March 20:

    March 19:

    • 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.

    • 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.

    March 18:

    • 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.

    March 17:

    • 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.

    March 16:

    • 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.

    March 15:

    • 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.

    March 14

    • 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.

    March 13

    • 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.

    March 12

    March 11

    • 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 wearing a mask when appropriate, working from home, avoiding unnecessary trips, and absolutely, positively staying home if you feel sick.

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