Canceled classes, voting with Q-tips: Virus concerns grow


By Andrew Welsh-Huggins - Associated Press



COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Cancellations and closings are sweeping across Ohio as coronavirus concerns grow. A look at developments related to the virus that causes COVID-19 as the state tests for additional cases after confirming its first five, and after Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine ordered schools closed for three weeks:

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TESTING

Health officials say 13 people in the state have tested positive. Ohio is testing 159 people who have shown symptoms of respiratory distress and has cleared another 50 people. State Health Director Dr. Amy Acton says Ohio is now experiencing “community spread,” meaning the virus is widespread throughout the state.

For most people, the virus 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.

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CANCELLATIONS

Ohio State University canceled all in-person classes for the rest of the semester and ordered dorms vacated within two weeks. Ohio’s Roman Catholic bishops exempted parishioners from Mass for the next three weekends, and other denominations also eliminated services. The zoo in Toledo will close beginning this weekend, as will libraries in Cincinnati and Columbus among others. Canton closed its recreation center for three weeks among several cities shutting down rec centers. With schools ordered closed for three weeks beginning Monday, shoppers across the state emptied grocery store shelves of products, especially toilet paper. Democratic state lawmakers called on Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, to cancel mandated school testing this year.

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PREVENTION

DeWine is expected to order all visitors prohibited from nursing homes, an order he is also extending to the state’s psychiatric hospitals. Akron Children’s Hospital is limiting visitors to two a day per patient. In central Ohio, the YMCA is removing toys that can’t be easily cleaned from play areas and limiting the ability of people to work out on adjacent machines. Columbus was among cities seeking a public health emergency order that would allow mandatory testing and quarantines if necessary.

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ELECTIONS

More than 1,200 people have signed up for poll worker duty across the state after election boards reported some workers were dropping out, according to Secretary of State Frank LaRose. State Auditor Keith Faber encouraged full- and part-time staff to take a paid leave day Tuesday to work the polls. In Stark County in northeastern Ohio, the elections board ordered more than 118,000 Q-tips to reduce the risk of infection by allowing voters to tap their selections with the Q-tips.

By Andrew Welsh-Huggins

Associated Press