COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio marked St. Patrick’s Day on Tuesday with no parades and no primary election over fears of the coronavirus outbreak. Health Director Dr. Amy Acton issued an order late Monday shutting down polls Tuesday after a judge refused to stop the election. A look at the latest developments in Ohio:
As of Monday, there were 67 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Ohio, including 17 hospitalizations, with patients ranging from 14 to 86. There have been no reported deaths in the state. Drive-up testing by hospitals was offered Tuesday in Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Dayton, among other cities.
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, or death. The vast majority of people recover.
Late Monday, Ohio Health Director Dr. Amy Acton ordered polls not to open over concerns about the coronavirus, hours before voters were supposed begin casting ballots in the state’s presidential primary.
Gov. Mike DeWine said that the decision was necessary during an unprecedented health crisis and that he fully supported Acton’s action. The plan is to delay an in-person election until June.
House Republicans scheduled sessions next week to address the primary delay.
DeWine said Tuesday an order would be issued soon, in cooperation with hospitals, limiting surgical procedures to lifesaving and otherwise serious surgery to free up bed space for what’s expected to be a surge in cases.
COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES
Ohio State University and Capital University in Columbus, Youngstown State University, and the University of Findlay were among those announcing the cancellation of May commencement ceremonies, saying they couldn’t comply with restrictions severely limiting the size of gatherings.
With numerous businesses ordered temporarily closed, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services said it had received 48,640 unemployment insurance benefit applications online in just two days this week, compared to typical filings of a few hundred. Restaurants are among the hardest-hit businesses because of restrictions on dining in. The Ohio Restaurant Association says Ohio has about 22,500 food service locations with 585,000 total employees. It urged people to consider takeout and pickup options. Ohio’s investor-owned utilities suspended disconnections for customers with past-due bills.
ST. PATRICK’S DAY
Multiple St. Patrick’s Day parades were canceled in the past few days, including Tuesday in Columbus, one of the few Ohio cities that holds the parade on the holiday itself.
Ohio’s Roman Catholic bishops suspended all publicly celebrated Masses through Easter on April 12, extending an earlier suspension of services through Palm Sunday one week earlier.
“The last thing that any of us want is for a funeral or a wedding to be the cause of someone else dying.” — DeWine, urging people to limit gatherings even though it may involve “very difficult” decisions for families.