Ohio confirms first coronavirus cases, continues testing


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A look at developments related to the new coronavirus as Ohio confirms its first three cases and continues to test for additional cases.

TESTING:

Health officials said three people have tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 and are quarantined at home. All three — a husband and wife who were on a Nile cruise, and a man who attended the America Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington, D.C. — are in their mid-50s and are from Cuyahoga County. Ohio is currently testing five people who have shown symptoms of respiratory distress and has cleared another 11 people through testing. The state is monitoring an additional 255 people whose travels put them at risk but who aren’t showing any symptoms of illness.

PREVENTION:

Gov. Mike DeWine has banned unessential travel by state employees. The governor also issued a state of emergency allowing Ohio to buy health-related supplies without bidding out contracts. State Health Department Director Dr. Amy Acton said people should restrict contact with those deemed vulnerable to the disease, who can include the elderly, people with lung and heart disease, people whose immune systems may be compromised, and people who are severely overweight. People who live in households with vulnerable people should treat themselves as if they have the disease and take appropriate precautions. She also said people should wash their hands frequently, avoid touching their faces, shield their coughs, and stay home if they’re not feeling well. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

ELECTIONS:

Secretary of State Frank LaRose said Tuesday that 128 polling locations will be moved out of nursing homes for the March 17 primary. He also suggested people vote by mail if possible, and ordered Ohio’s boards of elections to make curbside drop-off available for absentee ballots on Election Day. LaRose said he’s working with boards of elections on best practices for cleaning voting machines and making sure elections officials have enough supplies.

CANCELLATIONS:

Ohio State University, which is on spring break this week, cancelled classes for the remainder of the month and said all instruction will be online at least through March. The University of Dayton suspended international travel. The Ohio Supreme Court canceled a dispute resolution conference on Tuesday expected to bring 500 judges, magistrates and others to Columbus. DeWine canceled a state insurance fund for injured workers’ conference which was scheduled to bring 8,000 to Columbus beginning Wednesday. The Jewish Federation of Cleveland said a staff member was one of the people diagnosed with coronavirus and is closing its education center for two weeks.

VIRUS DETAILS:

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover. In mainland China, where the virus first exploded, more than 80,000 people have been diagnosed and more than 58,000 have so far recovered.