Fifty-five Ohioans have died of coronavirus, or COVID-19, the Ohio Department of Health announced Tuesday. The total count of confirmed cases has risen to 2,199. At least 585 people have been hospitalized across the state. The department said the case numbers are believed to be low and beyond, but the hospitalization numbers may be more representative of the outbreak's status, experts say.
These numbers have increased from 39 deaths and 1,933 total cases since Monday.
The governor announced Monday that Ohio's K-12 schools would be closed until May 1, when the state would then re-assess the risk. Originally, schools were scheduled to re-open after three weeks.
Ohio Department of Health's director of health Dr. Amy Acton stated Monday that she expected a peak of cases in mid- to late-May.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed a bill on Friday that allows the state to respond to the coronavirus, or COVID-19, outbreak with sweeping measures. In addition to letting high school seniors graduate, helping independent contractors earn benefits, ensuring water services will not be shut off and waiving in-person requirements for teachers and government officials, the bill extends primary voting through April 28 and extends that tax deadline to July 15.
The state of Ohio could see as many as 10,000 new cases of coronavirus, or COVID-19, per day at peak surge, said Acton on Friday.
"This is just the tip of the iceberg due to our limited testing," said Acton on Wednesday.
After stopping elective surgeries, bed capacity is currently sitting at 60 percent. Bed capacity in the state needs to be increased by 50 percent, Acton says. Thus, hotel and dorm rooms will soon be turned into hospital units.
"It's all about ICU bed capacities," said Acton on Tuesday, stressing that Ohio is on a similar track to Italy or New York. "Trying to keep people who are being routinely cared for in lesser settings and turning our hospitals into basically expanded ICU settings."
The Ohio Department of Health signed a stay-at-home order on Sunday. The order permits leaving home only for essential activities, such as obtaining medical, food and other supplies, to engage in outdoor activities such as walks and park visits and taking care of others. This order also puts more restrictions on non-essential businesses.
Without it, Acton says there could be up to 6,000 new cases a day.
"Clearly, that would quickly outpace our hospital capability," says Acton.
The order goes into effect Monday at midnight and lasts through April 6 and can be enforced as a misdemeanor offense.
"All the evidence shows that we are at an absolutely crucial time in this war, and what we do now will make all the difference in the world," said DeWine on Sunday. "What we do now will slow this invader so our healthcare system, our docs our nurses will have time to treat the casualties."
The Cleveland Clinic also instituted stricter visitor regulations on Friday. Almost all visitors are barred from visiting patients. New mothers and children may have one visitor each, and end-of-life patients may have a restricted number of visitors.
"We're definitely on the upslope now," said Acton on Thursday.
On Thursday, DeWine issued an executive order to expand Medicare services such as behavior therapy, addiction recovery and medical services, allowing them to operate over the phone or digitally.
On Wednesday, DeWine closed salons, tattoo parlors, hair salons and 181 BMV locations at the end of business hours today. Five BMV locations will remain open because they're essential, he said. The Governor also asked law enforcement to not issue tickets for expired license and for a grace period for those with expired licensees.
He also asked that all open businesses in Ohio take the temperature of every single employee every single day before they come to work as well as be "very very aggressive" with cleaning surfaces.
With limited testing, DeWine also said Wednesday that if you believe you're sick or have symptoms just act like you are. That means staying home and keeping everyone who lives with you at home. Tests, which need to be saved for the most critical patients and health care professionals, are not necessary in most cases, unless you're having trouble breathing.
"The most patriotic thing you can do right now is stay home," says DeWine. "With or without testing, the virus is here and lives among us. And we're at war with it. We don't need to go into the battlefield. We simply need to stay home."
The order to limit gatherings to 100 less was also lowered to 50 or less to "conform" to Center for Disease Control guidelines on Monday. People 65 or older, women who are pregnant or with compromised immune systems should not leave their home at all, the Governor said. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump suggested no gatherings of more than 10 people.
For this reason, DeWine recommended extending voting to June 2. While DeWine didn't have power alone to do this, a lawsuit was filed Monday in Franklin County and a judge held a hearing. After it was blocked by a judge, Acton signed an order closing polling booths Monday night.
"We should not force them to make this choice between their health and their rights and their constitutional duties," says DeWine. "I do not have the power to extend an election. The statute says this can only occur if we've been invaded. We've been invaded, though that's not what the law intended."
On Tuesday, MetroHealth joined the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospital in adding testing capabilities. These tests are concentrated on the critically ill but should ramp up to 500 per day in the coming weeks. MetroHealth's test show results in just two hours, according to reports. Cleveland Clinic and UH have also added a second location at the Landerbrook Health Center in Mayfield Heights. While the facilities are open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., they've been overwhelmed by patients and each reached their limits by noon.
Furthermore, Cleveland city council president Kevin Kelley announced Monday that the city would suspend evictions "caused by economic hardship resulting from the coronavirus pandemic." Legislation is expected to be passed next week, bu a letter to the Cleveland Municipal Housing Court suggested stopping evictions immediately.
With hospitals already at about 75% of capacity this time of year, the Ohio Department of Health requested hospitals and dentist offices delay elective procedures on Tuesday. The Department is defining this as a surgery or procedure that is lifesaving, that preserves the function of an organ or limb, that will reduce the risk of metastasis or progression of disease for cancer or other condition and a surgery that will reduce the risk of progression to severe symptoms to the patient.
It is also requesting PPE such as nasal swabs, latex gloves and other equipment, as hospitals are expecting to have a shortage with an expected surge. The current health care infrastructure can handle a surge of another 25%, and the Department is exploring hotels and nursing homes as makeshift hospitals.
Experts say the virus is "all over the state of Ohio" with an estimate at least 100,000 other Ohioans potentially carrying the virus, says DeWine. He's also said those numbers could double in a manner of days.
The median age of patients is 48 years old, with the youngest patient being 2 years old and the oldest being 91 years old. Even in 40-50 year olds, the case fatality rate can be one in 250. There may have been one death. Doctors presume the patient had COVID-19, but this was not confirmed.
On Sunday, the Governor said Acton had signed an order closing all bars and restaurants starting at 9 p.m. Carry-out and take out is allowed. This order will in place indefinitely, for no set amount of time.
"If you can walk in, order coffee and a doughnut, and walk out that's fine," says DeWine. "But we can't have people seated and congregating."
DeWine said he would sign an executive order to mitigate the damage and suffering to bars and restaurants by waiving certain penalties and offering benefits (More information can be found at unemployment.ohio.gov). Bar owners can also return high-proof liquors bought in the past 30 days, and F2 temporary liquor permits can be returned.
However, after seeing photos of packed bars over the weekend and knowing St. Patrick's Day is just two days away, the decision was necessary.
"We have to act like this is a war," says Acton. "The blessing we have is every day we do more, we're going to blunt that curve. But we are in the surge. We're going to have multiple Wuhan's in this country."
"[Staying in] is a civic duty," she stressed. "This is not a drill. This is the once in a lifetime pandemic, and everything everyone of us does matters."
Illnesses began for infected patients from Feb. 7 to March 13. The infection is expected to peak around late April or early May.
"None of this should surprise us," said DeWine in a March 13 address. "This is all very predictable. This is what experts were telling us."
In the Friday address, the Governor also issued an order for county jails and correctional facilities around state that includes no visitation and other protocols similar to what has been instituted in nursing homes. The federal government also approved waivers for Ohio schools that enable schools to continue schools to feed students lunch and breakfast. On Saturday, the Governor closed Ohio's casinos.
On Thursday, DeWine banned group gatherings of more than 100 people in a single room at the same time. This ban includes parades, fairs, festivals and more but does not include auditoriums, libraries, medical facilities, public transportation, voting locations and more. Schools, he said, would also be closed to the students beginning at the close of school on March 15 with no exceptions. Schools will be attempting to implement distant learning options.
Meanwhile, the Cleveland Clinic had suggested avoiding gatherings of more than 25 people at this point in time.
After delays in available tests, the Cleveland Clinic has begun in-house testing and has developed a way to get results more quickly than existing tests, within hours rather than days. It is currently conducting 500 tests per day and expects that number to double by next week.
The Clinic has also partnered with University Hospitals to provide drive-through COVID-19 testing. The on-site testing, which began at 11 a.m. on March 14 for Cleveland Clinic patients and on Monday for UH patients, will be open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week. The location is the jointly-owned W.O. Walker Building in University Circle at 10524 Euclid Ave., Cleveland.
You must have a doctor's order to get tested. If you believe you may be sick, see below for more information and call your health care provider before visiting the hospital.
"The entire health care community is coming together by responding with tremendous unity," said Tom Mihaljevic, President and CEO of Cleveland Clinic. "Everyone is looking at us to do what is right, and we will."
The Cleveland Clinic is also in the process of setting up tents to pre-screen patients before entering the facilities.
The city of Cleveland is also temporarily halting water and power shutoffs, according to Mayor Frank Jackson. Jackson also instituted a travel ban for all city employees and for the city's AAU basketball teams.
President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency around 3:30 p.m. and encouraged all hospitals nationwide to enact emergency plans. Cuyahoga and Summit Counties have also declared a state of emergency.
Below, we've curated tips from the Center for Disease Control, the Ohio Department of Health, the Cleveland Clinic, cleveland.com and more. As the pandemic continues, we'll be updating this page with all of the information you need to know to keep yourself and your family safe.
For more frequently asked questions in both English and Spanish, including who is most at risk, how the virus is spreading, whether or not you should wear a mask and more, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov.
What Is The Coronavirus?
COVID-19, or the coronavirus disease 2019, is an upper respiratory tract disease caused by one of the seven coronaviruses known to infect humans, according to the Ohio Department of Health. People who recently traveled to China, South Korea, Japan, Iran or Italy, as well as people who care for patients with COVID-19, are at highest risk. It is also believed that elderly people and those with pre-existing conditions are most at risk.
What Are The Warning Signs, and when should I contact my doctor?
The Ohio Department of Health recommends calling your healthcare provider if you have all or some of these most common symptoms. If you already have an appointment, call ahead so the healthcare provider's office can take the necessary steps to prepare and wear a face mask to the facility. This list is not all-inclusive.
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Persisten pain or pressure in chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Blush lips or face
For more info on when to contact your provider, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov.
What Are The Cleveland Clinic's Guidelines For Visiting Ohio Locations?
The following restrictions are currently in-place.
- If you’re sick, have a fever or a confirmed case of COVID-19, don’t visit or accompany a patients
- Patients may only have up to 2 people with them at any time.
- Visitors must be age 16+.
- Visitors can speak with a caregiver about exceptions and special circumstances.
- No visitors are allowed from 10 p.m.-8 a.m., unless accompanying a newly-admitted patient.
- Visitors must wash their hands, or use hand sanitizer, before and after leaving rooms and hospital buildings.
What Should I Do If I'm Quarantined?
Stay calm and follow these recommendations from the Ohio Department of Health.
- Keep your distance by staying in your bedroom, using your own bathroom, wearing a face mask around others.
- Have someone else in the home prepare your meals and leave them at your bedroom door.
- Don't share bedding, towels, dishes or water bottles.
- Do not leave your home unless it's for medical care.
- Limit visitors, especially if they have symptoms of fever, cough or difficulty breathing.
- Limit contact with pets.
For more info on when to contact your provider, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov.
How Can I Help Someone In Quarantine?
Self-quarantine separates sick, contagious people from those who are healthy, often for up to two weeks. It can be a very scary and isolating experience for those under quarantine as well as their friends and family. Here are a few things you can do to help someone who is isolated or quarantined due to COVID-19.
- Call, text or video chat those in quarantine to show your support and to see what they need.
- Drop off food or drinks at their door in case they're running low on supplies.
- Offer to do yard work, take out trash or recycling or drop their mail at their door.
- Offer to run errands to pharmacies or stores for essentials, including food, household items or pet supplies.
- Bring games, books or other comfort members.
For more information on how to help those in quarantine visit coronavirus.ohio.gov.
How Can I Disinfect If Everyday Supplies Run Out?
Here is some guidance from the Ohio Department of Health.
- Use a diluted household bleach solution mixture, if appropriate for the surface, of 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) bleach per gallon of water or 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of water. Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners.
- Use an alcohol solution with at least 70% alcohol.
- Wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. Discard gloves after use, or, if reusable gloves are used, they should be dedicated only for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces for COVID-19 and no other purposes. Clean hands immediately after gloves are removed.
- Clean hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
What Should I Buy To Prepare?
You don't need to panic. If you're trying to stock up for a potential 14-day quarantine, here are some items you can buy.
- Nonperishable food items such as canned fruit, beans and vegetables, canned or powdered milk, broths, soup, protein products such as fish and meat, snack items such as peanut butter, jelly, crackers, nuts and granola bars, frozen meals and baby food.
- Water and liquid with electrolytes such as Pedialyte or sports drinks.
- Medications such as prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines such as antacids, cough and cold medicines, pain relievers and vitamins.
- Entertainment items such as video games, movies, board games, cards and books.
*All info from coronavirus.ohio.gov, the Cleveland Clinic, cleveland.com or Ohio Governor Mike DeWine.
Who Should I Follow For Local Breaking News?
Here are a few local social media accounts and journalists to follow for news on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine
The Ohio governor's Twitter account (@govmikedewine) is constantly being updated with information from the Departments of Education, Health and more. His Facebook page is also a great resource.
Cleveland Clinic News
The newsroom for the hospital, which is leading the fight against COVID-19 with groundbreaking testing, is a vital resource for the best ways to protect yourself, find updates on precautions and more. Information can be found on Twitter and at clevelandclinic.org/news.
The health reporter for The Plain Dealer is working 24/7 on the ground to provide non-stop updates from local hospitals and government entities on Twitter (@gchristcle) and by filing stories at cleveland.com.
Ohio Department of Education
For updates on school closings and other information, follow the Ohio Department of Education on Twitter (@oheducation) or at education.ohio.gov.
Here are the most recent press releases, updates and news reports you need to know.
Coronavirus Can Be Stopped Only By Harsh Steps, Experts Say — The New York Times
Ohio Has 351 Coronavirus Cases, Compared To 1,035 In Michigan: Compare Timeline Of Restrictions — cleveland.com
Preparing for Coronavirus — Cleveland Clinic
Graphics: Why Outbreaks Like Coronavirus Spread And How We Can Flatten The Curve — Washington Post