Ohio Department of Health believes 100,000 Ohioans are carrying coronavirus

Cases expected to double every 6 days
Posted at 3:33 PM, Mar 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-12 23:23:43-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio — More than 100,000 people are believed to be infected with the coronavirus, according statements by officials with the Ohio Department of Health during a Thursday afternoon news conference.

That number accounts for around 1% of Ohio’s population.

"We know now, just the fact of community spread says that at least 1%, at the very least 1% of our population is carrying this virus in Ohio today," said Dr. Amy Acton, Director of ODH. "We have 11.7 million people."

According to the Governor Mike DeWine’s Office and the ODH, cases are expected to double every six days.

"Whenever you know of 2 people that have it due to community spread, then you can assume that 1% of your population has it," said ODH Press Secretary Melanie Amato, citing a 2017 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from the CDC.

Currently, Ohio has five confirmed cases of the virus. Three of the cases are in Cuyahoga County, one is in Stark County and the newest case—announced Wednesday—is a 55-year-old man in Trumbull County.

The man in the second known case contracted the disease via community spread.

There are 52 people under investigation for COVID-19, meaning they have exhibited symptoms and are awaiting test results.

"This is certainly an unprecedented time. It is this one in 50 years pandemic that we have been planning for that we talk a lot about in my over 30 years in public health," Acton said. "We have never seen a situation exactly like this."

ODH is urging people to stay at home. Slowing down the spread of the disease over the next few days is “crucial,” Acton said.

Acton also stressed full participation and accuracy from healthcare provider who are taking COVID-19 test samples across the Buckeye State.

“I have heard that there are Urgent Cares who are turning away sick patients, this is the time we need everyone to stay out-patient," Acton said.

“You really need to do a good history with each patient, you need to ask about travel history, you need to ask if they have been in contact with someone under investigation.”

The Cleveland Clinic announced it will increase its coronavirus testing capacity from 500 tests a day, to 1,000 tests a day by the end of the week.

Dr. Brian Rubin said the Cleveland Clinic has the capacity to continue to increase its testing numbers in the coming weeks.

"Some patients may have multiple samples being tested. We will try to maximize how we can run our testing so we are most efficient as possible," Rubin said.

"They need to be negative for the flu. Then we will test. There is a process there."

"That’s really to conserve resources. We want to the test the people that are most likely to have COVID-19 right now and really target it toward those patients."

"It’s really new territory for all of us. We don’t know what exactly is going to happen."

"We hope that we’re intervening early enough in this epidemic that we can squelch it and not need as many tests and supplies and so forth."

"The reality is we don’t know. I think you can safely say we’re pulling out all the stops that we can right now to be ready in case we need it."

To slow down the spread, Acton and DeWine signed an order Thursday banning the gathering of 100 or more people in a single room or single space.

The order does not apply to “typical office environments, schools, restaurants, factories, or retail or grocery stores where large groups of people are present, but it is unusual for them to be within an arm’s length of one another,” according to DeWine.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

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 Wednesday March 11, there were four confirmed cases of coronavirus in Ohio — three in Cuyahoga County, outside of Cleveland, and one in Stark County. Twenty four persons were under investigation for the disease. See the Coronavirus information page on the Ohio Department of Health's website for the latest numbers of confirmed cases and persons under investigation.

According to the governor, two of the confirmed cases are from a married couple that went on a cruise on the Nile River. The third Cuyahoga County case is from a person that went to the AIPAC conference in Washington D.C. According to a cantor from the Jewish Temple in Beachwood, 160 people from Cleveland attended the conference. The three patients are between 54 and 56-years-old, according to officials. Read more on those cases here.

On Wednesday, health officials announced a fourth case in Ohio - a man in his mid-50s in Stark County. This case is the first example in the state of "community spread," meaning the man had not traveled out of the country, and had no known contact with an international traveler. Read more on that case here.

On Tuesday, after consulting with medical experts, Gov. DeWine announced wide-ranging, statewide recommendations, including holding sporting events without spectators and having colleges and universities switch to remote learning.

Then, on Wednesday, Gov. DeWine issued an order limiting the number of visitors to nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Ohio, and announced he would soon be issuing an order limiting public gatherings across the state.

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

Worldwide Coronavirus Tracker from Johns Hopkins University

EPA releases list of approved disinfectants to use against COVID-19

How to protect yourself from coronavirus when flying

Think you may have the coronavirus? Here’s what to do

A state of emergency was issued in Ohio following 3 positive COVID-19 cases. Here's what it means.

Cuyahoga County Medical Director answers your questions about coronavirus


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.

The three symptoms of coronavirus, according to the CDC


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.

Additional Resources

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:

Fact sheet
Prevention infographic
Resources and information

Guidance for pregnant women
Guidance for risk assessment
Guidance for schools
Guidance for travelers

What you can do to stop the spread of COVID-19 – Chinese
What you can do to stop the spread of COVID-19 – English
What you can do to stop the spread of COVID-19 – Spanish
The CCBH has created this list of coronavirus-related resources from the CDC:
If you are sick with COVID-19 – Chinese
If you are sick with COVID-19 – English
If you are sick with COVID-19 – Spanish
Fact sheet – Chinese
Preventing spread of COVID-19 at election/polling/voting locations
Prevention and treatment
Symptoms – overview
Guidance for businesses
Guidance for colleges and universities
Guidance for communities and mass gatherings
Guidance for healthcare facilities
World Health Organization
Guidance for people with elevated risk for illness
Coronavirus information
Mythbusters – the truth about food, packages, pets and other things related to COVID-19
Guidance for schools
Video – What is COVID-19?
Video – What is my risk of getting COVID-19?
Video – How can I protect myself from COVID-19?
What you can do to stop the spread of COVID-19 – English
What you can do to stop the spread of COVID-19 – Spanish

If you are sick with COVID-19 – Chinese
If you are sick with COVID-19 – English
If you are sick with COVID-19 – Spanish

Preventing spread of COVID-19 at election/polling/voting locations
Prevention and treatment
Symptoms – overview

World Health Organization

Coronavirus information
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?