In his daily press briefing on the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced a statewide order banning gatherings of 100 or more people.
The restrictions apply to any gathering held in an auditorium, stadium, theater, meeting hall or outdoor venue and includes fairs, parades and festivals. The restrictions do not apply to personal gatherings like weddings and funerals. Schools, airports, factories, hospitals, libraries and shopping malls will not be ordered to close or suspend operations. K-12 schools, however, will go on an "extended spring break," beginning Monday, for three weeks.
DeWine said, additionally, that sporting events may continue if they are held without spectators. Only immediate family members, essential staff and media will be permitted at athletic contests.
These measures, DeWine stressed, were only temporary but were necessary to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Both DeWine and Dr. Amy Acton, the state's public health director, have urged Ohioans to limit all non-essential contact in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. Thursday, the state's fifth case was confirmed in Trumbull County.
"The numbers are going to continue to grow," DeWine said. "These confirmed numbers are only a small fraction. This is in all likelihood all throughout the state. Whatever the number is today, it will double in six days. And that'll continue on and on and on."
DeWine pleaded with people — the young and healthy in particular — to take precautions like social distancing seriously, not for their own health but for the health of their neighbors and elderly family members and the webs of total strangers with whom they inadvertently come into contact.
In addition to the restrictions on mass gatherings, DeWine announced heightened restrictions on nursing homes. No visitors will be allowed there or at the state's psychiatric hospitals at this time. Those measures are being imposed after responses from nursing homes, who said that the "one visitor per day" restriction didn't go far enough.
"Nobody knows the safety of their patients better than nursing homes themselves," DeWine said.
DeWine and Lt. Gov. John Husted both made clear that voting will not
restricted and Ohioans should make every effort to vote next Tuesday or before, if able.
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