COLUMBUS, Ohio — The coronavirus has upended everyone’s daily lives and families who were planning a wedding or having to deal with funeral preparations for a loved one are now scratching their heads at how to move forward.
Simply put, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine is asking couples to postpone their nuptials. And for funerals, he suggests that families hold a small private memorial and have a large-scale service at a later date.
“The last thing that any of us want is for a funeral or a wedding to be the cause of someone else dying,” DeWine said during a news conference Tuesday.
Many people are scared and unsure of what the coming days bring, but DeWine said he remains hopeful.
“The sun is going to come out again,” DeWine said. “We’ll get back to normal.”
Cuyahoga County's probate court has suspended the issuance of new marriage licenses until further notice, except in special circumstances, and that's not the only roadblock couples in Northeast Ohio are dealing with as they put plans on hold.
Postponing until June
For Taylor Hepburn, who lives in Parma Heights, and her fiancé, May 15 is an important day.
"It’s our anniversary day, it was our engagement day," Hepburn said.
And until Monday, it was supposed to be their wedding day, too. Hepburn had gone through the entire wedding planning process, buying a dress, picking vendors and ordering invitations.
But on Monday, the couple made the difficult decision to postpone their wedding due to COVID-19 concerns. They now plan to marry at the end of June.
"We made the hard decision, you know, it was through a lot of tears," Hepburn said. "I cried, you know, Sunday night, 'I need to make this decision, what’s best for us, my family.'"
Hepburn said she and her fiancé have been lucky. They didn't lose any deposits and their vendors were able to move their date with no problems.
Although it's been stressful, Hepburn is glad they decided to postpone when they did.
"I wanted my family to be there, I wanted them to be healthy," Hepburn said. "If I waited any longer, I probably would have maybe lost my money."
Advice from a vendor
As other couples deal with this, even closer to their wedding day in some cases, one vendor said communication is key.
"Find out what their policy is if there’s a postponement, find out what their availability is," Nicole Sebrasky said.
Sebrasky and her husband own Brass Key Photography. She also runs a Facebook group called Northeast Ohio Wedding Resale, which has nearly 45,000 members. Couples can use the group to find replacement venues or vendors if something falls through and to talk about problems many of them are experiencing right now, as well as to seek advice and encouragement.
Sebrasky urged couples to keep an open mind and postpone rather than cancel the wedding.
"In order to maintain the same vendors that you have for your wedding, you may have to make sacrifices or consider a weekday wedding in order to keep all of those same vendors," Sebrasky said.
She said a canceled wedding is tough on vendors, too.
"A lot of vendors are paid within a week of the wedding, so if those weddings are canceled or postponed, that cuts our income for the year in half, potentially," Sebrasky said.
One couple changes plans
One Cleveland couple had to cancel their plans to marry on an island.
Instead, Matt Szymczyk and Bridget Gomillion got married in Cleveland by a Cuyahoga County judge, with his daughter there.
Although the rest of their families weren't able to attend, the family had a nice dinner delivered to them by local chef Dante Boccuzzi, who also personally delivered dessert to them at their Tremont home.
The family made the best of the day and said they emphathize with other couples having to cancel or postpone their weddings.
"I’m grateful," Szymczyk said. "This actually gives me a lot of gratitude and I actually want to thank you two ladies because you make this fantastic."
"It was a wonderful day," Gomillion said.
Boccuzzi said, "I think it definitely shows true love, I think they’re going to do whatever it takes to get married today and that’s cool."
The couple said they plan to head to that island sometime in the future for a vacation.
Additional Coronavirus information and resources:
Read our daily Coronavirus Live Blog for the latest updates and news on coronavirus.
Below you can find information and resources on novel coronavirus, COVID-19, from local, state, national and international organizations, including the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, the Ohio Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization.
News 5 will continue to update this section with new information, resources, links, and more as it is made available.
COVID-19/2019 Novel Coronavirus Overview from the CDC:
What is coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)? Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.
Can people in the U.S. get COVID-19? Yes. COVID-19 is spreading from person to person in parts of the United States. Risk of infection with COVID-19 is higher for people who are close contacts of someone known to have COVID-19, for example healthcare workers, or household members. Other people at higher risk for infection are those who live in or have recently been in an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19. Learn more about places with ongoing spread here.
Have there been cases of COVID-19 in the U.S.? Yes. The first case of COVID-19 in the United States was reported on January 21, 2020. The current count of cases of COVID-19 in the United States is available on CDC’s webpage here.
How does COVID-19 spread? The virus that causes COVID-19 probably emerged from an animal source, but is now spreading from person to person. The virus is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It also may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. Learn what is known about the spread of newly emerged coronaviruses here.
Download and read the CDC's full "What you need to know about coronavirus disease (COVID-19)" information sheet here.
Global case numbers are reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) in their coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) situation report.
Coronavirus in Ohio:
As of Monday, March 16, there were 50 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Ohio. Cuyahoga County remains the county with the highest number of cases in the state with 24. There are 6 in Butler, 2 in Belmont, 3 in Franklin, 1 in Geauga, 3 in Lorain, 1 in Lucas, 1 in Medina, 3 in Stark, 2 in Summit, 2 in Trumbull and 1 in Tuscarawas.
ODH Director Amy Acton revealed that their department believes that at least 100,000 Ohioans are currently carrying the disease, a claim that has made national headlines.
Since Wednesday, March 11, Governor Mike DeWine has issued the following orders:
-A limit on visits to nursing homes and an order to hold sporting events without spectators. Since that time, almost all professional, college and high school sporting events have cancelled, and DeWine issued an order restricting all visitors to nursing homes and assisted care facilities, with exemptions for end-of-life care.
-A prohibition on "mass gatherings" of over 100 people. Another order on March 16 reduced gathering size to 50 people, per the CDC's current guidance.
-An order to close all Ohio K-12 schools for three weeks beginning at the end of the school day on Monday, March 16.
-On March 13, DeWine announced several new steps the state is taking to prevent the spread of coronavirus and provide relief to Ohio's residents, including an order stopping visitations at county jails, providing free breakfasts and lunches to Ohio's K-12 students, and a request to the Trump administration for regulatory and other relief as necessary.
-On March 15, DeWine ordered that all bars and restaurants in Ohio close, and serve customers through carry-out and delivery only.
-On March 16, DeWine announced his recommendation that the Primary Election on March 17 be postponed to June 2, and that mail-in absentee voting be extended. Secretary of State Frank LaRose supported the recommendation. A lawsuit was filed but rejected by Franklin County Judge Richard Frye. Mere hours before polls would have opened, Ohio Dept. of Health Director Amy Acton ordered the polls closed as a public health emergency.
Coronavirus' Impacts in Northeast Ohio:
Since the announcement of confirmed cases in Ohio, a number of local events, schools, facilities and more have announced closures, cancellations, postponements and changes as a result of coronavirus. News 5 is working to keep this information updated in the links below:
Here's a list of things in Northeast Ohio closed due to coronavirus concerns
Multiple Ohio colleges suspend in-person classes due to coronavirus concerns
The City of Cleveland has canceled its St. Patrick's Day Parade and the Cleveland International Film Festival, and issued a civil emergency in response to COVID-19.
More resources from News 5 and affiliates:
News 5's Coronavirus continuing coverage page
The symptoms of coronavirus are fever and lower respiratory tract issues, such as cough and shortness of breath, according to the Cuyahoga County Board of Health.
Anyone traveling internationally should review plans in advance of their trip, and check the CDC’s COVID-19 Travel Information Page for daily updates and travel alerts.
Click here for the CDC COVID-19 Travel Information Page
Practice Good Hygiene
The CCBH recommends the following good hygiene practices to prevent coronavirus, as well as the flu, colds and other illnesses:
Sneeze or cough into the bend of your elbow to keep germs from spreading
Regularly wash your hands with soap and water/use alcohol-based hand sanitizer in between
Don’t share cups, spoons, forks, etc. with anyone
Don’t make food for anyone if you are sick
Don’t go to work or school if you are sick
Visit a doctor, urgent care or emergency department if you are sick – don’t take chances
Please contact your medical provider with any questions.
Guidance for those with compromised immune systems
Click here for specific guidance from the CCBH for anyone at higher risk for becoming ill.
Cuyahoga County: See the CCBH page on coronavirus here.
Ohio Department of Health:
Click here for the Ohio Department of Health’s Coronavirus information page.
It is updated daily at 2 p.m. with the current number of confirmed cases, persons under investigation and persons under investigation who tested negative for the disease.
More resources from ODH:
Resources and information
Ohio Secretary of State:
Corona Facts: Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose has launched a web page dedicated to providing facts about coronavirus' impacts on voting and the Primary Election in Ohio.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Homepage for COVID-19 materials and information
What you can do to stop the spread of COVID-19
If you are sick with COVID-19 – English
Preventing spread of COVID-19 at election/polling/voting locations
World Health Organization
Mythbusters – the truth about food, packages, pets and other things related to COVID-19
Video – What is COVID-19?
Video – What is my risk of getting COVID-19?
Video – How can I protect myself from COVID-19?