COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The fourth case of novel coronavirus (COVID-19 has been confirmed in Ohio, and 24 people are being investigated, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
A 53-year-old male from Stark County tested positive for COVID-19; this is the first case of community spread, meaning he has no travel history outside the United States.
The Ohio Department of Health and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine held a news conference at 2pm Wednesday with an update on the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus in the state.
21 people have tested negative, up from 11 on Monday.
“We expect to see more cases grow, and more community spread,” said Dr. Amy Acton, Director of Ohio Department of Health.
Stark County is south of Cleveland and Akron. The first three cases of COVID-19 were all confirmed in Cuyahoga County.
DeWine said he’s not ordering Ohio primary schools to close due to the virus, but the state may reach that point.
“If it comes that, we’ll work with the legislature and schools to seek to waive testing requirements if schools need to be closed,” said DeWine.
DeWine also said the state will be issuing an order regarding mass gatherings soon, but not Wednesday.
“Every expert has told us that there is a risk in any kind of mass gathering – the closer you are to other people, the bigger the risk. You must ask yourself if going to a large gathering is necessary.”
DeWine did say an order has been issued that limits the amount of visitors to nursing homes and assisted living communities.
“We are issuing an order limiting visitors to one per day per resident. There must be a single point of entry – and everyone will be screened for temperature/potential illness. Visitor logs must be kept.”
As the press conference was wrapping up, DeWine’s campaign sent an email blast to Ohioans, urging them to take the coronavirus threat seriously.
During a tour the Ohio Department of Health’s coronavirus call center, Wednesday, DeWine talked about how rapidly things are moving and the time the state has to react.
“This is like going from a total standstill to 140mph in two seconds.”
On Tuesday, DeWine recommend indoor sporting events limit spectators to avoid the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus in the state.
DeWine also said he’s recommending people to not attend indoor concerts or anything where a large group of people are gathering.
“Every action each of us takes can and will save lives,” said Governor DeWine.
According to Dr. Mysheika Roberts, Columbus Public Health Commissioner, there are two people in Franklin Co. currently being tested for the virus.
DeWine also recommended that colleges and universities go to remote learning and eliminate face to face interactions. He also recommended they stop school-sanctioned international travel and evaluate anyone who traveled internationally or spent time on a cruise ship during spring break.
The governor is not recommending the closure of K-12 schools, but says parents, principals and superintendents need to prepare for the possibility. Athens City Schools, due to its proximity to Ohio University, has canceled classes for two weeks.
Ohio State University announced Monday night that in-person classes would be suspended until at least the end of March. Several other colleges and universities followed suit Tuesday.
“By the end of this week it will seem like a different world than it is today and that’s the pace at which this change is occurring,” said Dr. Amy Acton, Director of Health, Ohio Department of Health.
DeWine is also recommending nursing homes to start scanning visitors, the state is no longer allowing visitors to jails or juvenile detention centers.
Governor DeWine declared a state of emergency in Ohio after Monday’s three positive tests.