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Gov. DeWine says Ohio is in a war with COVID-19, urges residents to fly the American flag

Gov. DeWine Tuesday
Posted at 2:07 PM, Mar 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-19 20:35:40-04

COLUMBUS — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine held a news conference Thursday with members of the Ohio Department of Health, Ohio Supreme Court and others to give an update on the state’s fight against the coronavirus.

Currently, there are 119 positive COVID-19 cases in Ohio. Of those cases, 33 of the infected individuals have been hospitalized. Cuyahoga County has the highest number of cases in Ohio at 53.

Here’s a breakdown of the other cases across the state:

Ashland (1), Belmont (2), Butler (8), Clark (1), Coshocton (2), Darke (1), Delaware (2), Franklin (10), Geauga (1), Hamilton (1), Huron (1), Lake (2), Lorain (6), Lucas (1), Mahoning (5), Medina (5), Miami (1), Montgomery (1), Richland (1), Stark (5), Summit (6), Trumbull (2), Tuscarawas (1).

Amy Acton, the director of the Ohio Department of Health, said that the state is investigating a report that a person with the virus in Maumee has died. Right now, the case has not been confirmed. According to Acton, health officials should have results back sometime soon.

Fly the American flag

March 19 is the first day of spring and DeWine remained steadfast in his assertion that by standing together, proverbially speaking, Ohioans will get through this.

“There’s hope, DeWine said. “Spring will come.”

DeWine thanked residents across Ohio who have stepped up to care for family members, for strangers and for people in need. The generosity of Ohioans has been shown every day. People are preparing meals, donating food and helping where they can.

“We have been attacked,” DeWine said. "Each of us is making those sacrifices just as in a time of war.”

To show solidarity, DeWine has asked Ohioans to raise an American flag to honor the nation and its fighting spirit. The battle with coronavirus is a fight we are all in together.

Courts and evictions

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Maureen O’Connor updated Ohioans on what the local and state courts are doing during the pandemic.

Right now, foreclosures and sheriff’s sales have been stayed for a minimum of 60 days. O’Connor urged county and municipal judges to issues summons in lieu of arrests and to lower bond amounts to help reduce the number of inmates in the jails across the state.

O’Connor also asked judges all across Ohio to stop issuing warrants for things such as failure to appear charges for traffic violations and for non-violent misdemeanors. She urged jails to release high-risk COVID-19 inmates such as individuals who have health issues or are older and more vulnerable. If unable to release those individuals, O’Conner said jails and courts should move to isolate those people.

Additionally, O’Conner said a $4 million grant will be given to help courts who don’t have access to video conferencing equipment in order to outfit them with technology that reduces the number of people walking into courtrooms each day.

On evictions, O’Connor said that there will not be a moratorium, because in some cases, such as domestic violence, they still need to occur.

Utilities

The governor touched on utility bills, something many unemployed Ohioans have worried about paying during the shutdown. DeWine has issued a moratorium to stop electric and gas utilities from being shut off for Ohio residents. Many local city governments have turned back on utilities that were disconnected prior to the shutdown.

DeWine said people need to start listening to officials and to stop congregating together in large groups. He brought up illegal internet cafes – something he has fought against for nearly a decade. The state is once again cracking down on cafes that have sprung up.

Ohio and Medicaid

DeWine introduced Ohio Medicaid Director Maureen Corcoran, who told all Ohioans that the governor has ordered the expansion of Medicaid through the use of “telehealth” services.

The requirement that a new patient visiting a mental health professional for the first time has also been temporarily eliminated, allowing patients who have never been seen before to get help should they need it. The expansion covers a wide variety of services such as occupational, physical and speech therapy.

Corcoran called the expansion a “necessity” and said it would help to take the pressure off of emergency rooms while still providing care to patients and protecting health care workers.

Caring for the elderly

Ursel McElroy, the director of the Ohio Department of Aging, said the state has taken steps to prevent the spread of the virus in nursing homes. To that end, McElroy says the state has created a special team to work with nursing homes. Measures limiting visitors to nursing homes have already been established and put in place.

McElroy touched on the need for social distancing and how hard that is at facilities where older folks congregate such as senior centers and adult day centers. To fight this, McElroy, said there will be a great need for those who can help deliver meals to older residents and to also help with personal care such as bathing and feeding the older generations.

In the meantime, McElroy tasked Ohioans to look out for their older family members and neighbors.

The need for blood

When Acton spoke again, it was to ask Ohioans to help each other by donating blood. She also warned younger people that the virus does not discriminate. The youngest case reported in Ohio was that of a 2-year-old, with the oldest being in their 90s.

Lt. Governor Jon Husted echoed Acton’s remarks. “If you love someone, step away,” he said.

Small business relief

Husted offered relief to small businesses and nonprofits, saying that they can now apply for low interest, long term loans from the Small Business Administration. For more information, click here or call 1-800-659-2955.

Husted said for residents not to worry about things such as banking. “Stay calm. The banking system is well,” he said.

What's next for daycares?

In the following days, DeWine said he will have more to share more about daycare facilities in Ohio. He has hinted for several days now that at some point in the future, daycares may be closed. In the meantime, he urged parents to find alternatives to daycare facilities.

RELATED: The latest coronavirus updates: Thursday, March 19, 2020

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

Read our daily Coronavirus Live Blog for the latest updates and news on coronavirus.

Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Ohio, a timeline of Governor Mike DeWine's orders since the outbreak, coronavirus' impact on Northeast Ohio, and link to more information from the Ohio Department of Health, the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, the CDC and the WHO.

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

Here is everything you need to know about testing for coronavirus in Ohio.

Here's a list of things in Northeast Ohio closed due to coronavirus concerns

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