COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Mayor Andrew Ginther Wednesday announced he signed an order declaring a State of Emergency in Columbus.

The declaration gives Mayor Ginther the authority to require that non-essential employees remain home.

The emergency declaration gives the mayor the ability to bypass bidding requirements for contracts. Ginther says the declaration also allows him to take steps to maintain payroll, insurance and payment to vendors.

Ginther says he believes this is the second time a state of emergency has ever been declared in the city.

City Attorney Zach Klein said the authorities granted under the emergency are very broad, so long as his actions are related to the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis.

Ginther also revealed two additional cases have been identified in Columbus, a 41-year-old woman and a 47-year-old man. Both are hospitalized. That makes a total of four confirmed cases in Columbus.

The mayor said in a statement:

A few moments ago, I signed a declaration of a State of Emergency for the City of Columbus drafted by City Attorney Zach Klein with the guidance and counsel of City Council President Shannon Hardin and City Auditor Megan Kilgore. This is necessary both for the city to continue to operate and for the protection of our employees and, ultimately, our residents.

74% of our employees work on the frontline: police, fire, public health nurses, utility plant operators, refuse collectors, just to name a few. They will continue to work, and the critical city services delivered by these dedicated men and women will continue.

Starting today, the city’s remaining full-time workforce – approximately 1,300 people – have been asked to remain at home. Many will be able to work remotely.

All full-time city employees will continue to be paid. Part-time employees will be paid for hours they work.

There is no doubt that this is a difficult time. We have little in history to compare it to.

But I believe in this city and the resiliency of its residents.

We can – and will – get through this together.