COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — About 2,000 child care centers have been approved so far under a special “pandemic” license, while lawmakers are rushing to pass legislation to address the widespread impact of the coronavirus.
At Gov. Mike DeWine’s press conference and on Twitter Thursday, he addressed several topics, including evictions:
“We want everyone to stay home, and we want everyone to have a home to stay in. The bill passed by the legislature relieves the courts’ requirement to hear criminal, civil, and administrative cases in a certain period of time.”
Regarding weddings and funerals, DeWine said, “These are not prohibited, but we ask that we don’t have large gatherings. Postpone the big ceremony — get married, but the big party should be after this is over. It’s something to look forward to.
He also said, “We are working on hospital capacity. We are working on a big expansion of beds and getting the infrastructure ready.
DeWine added, “We need to keep practicing social distancing. It slows the spread from person to person — it is buying us time. We want to make sure that no matter where you are where you get sick, that there is a process for getting you the healthcare you need.”
A look at virus-related developments in Ohio Wednesday and Thursday:
As of 2 p.m. Thursday, Ohio has more than 867 confirmed cases in 60 counties, including 15 deaths. A few long-term care centers are being called hotspots for cases.
The state Controlling Board on Wednesday added $15.6 million to the Ohio Department of Health’s budget to provide supplies to front-line healthcare workers. The bipartisan legislative board approves a wide variety of state spending.
The state is limiting testing to those who are hospitalized and to health care workers. The Health Department said 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.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
Mandatory state testing for schools would be ditched this year, absentee ballot voting for the postponed primary would be allowed until April 28, and the deadline for filing state income taxes would be extended until July 15 under wide-ranging legislation approved by lawmakers Wednesday to address the impact of the coronavirus.
The state is cracking down on companies violating the governor’s “stay at home” order, which limits business operations to those providing essential services.
“Enforcement is coming. We can’t have people who are violating this. Because it’s not fair,” said Lt. Gov. Jon Husted.
As questions continue about what jobs are considered essential, the state said several trades are on that list, including building and construction tradespeople, plumbers, electricians, and exterminators, among several others.
Ohio medical marijuana patients and their caregivers can telephone orders to dispensaries during the outbreak under revised Board of Pharmacy rules. Orders must be placed during dispensaries’ normal hours, and patients must go there to pick up products.
Doctors, nurses and other health care workers account for one in every six confirmed cases in the state.
They remain one of the most vulnerable groups, and staffing could become an issue as more health care workers become sick, said Health Director Dr. Amy Acton. “It is a massive, moving puzzle piece of staffing that I’m thinking about,” she said.
Associated Press writers Andrew Welsh-Huggins, Julie Carr Smyth and John Seewer in Columbus and Mark Gillispie in Cleveland contributed to this report.