Gyms, theaters to close; Ohio primary election up in the air

By Andrew Welsh-Huggins - The Associated Press

COLUMBUS — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Secretary of State Frank LaRose on Monday recommended that Ohio’s Tuesday primary be suspended until June 2 to avoid the spread of the coronavirus. The recommendation came as a mandatory three-week closure of schools began Monday, bars and restaurants were closed indefinitely, and the governor ordered gyms, rec centers and movie theaters closed. A look at the latest developments in Ohio.


As of Monday, there were 50 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Ohio, including 14 hospitalizations, with patients ranging from ages 14 to 86. There have been no reported deaths in 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, or death. The vast majority of people recover.


Many children accompanied by parents, grandparents and guardians started the day Monday picking up federally funded breakfast to-go bags at designated schools. Many schools planned to provide breakfast and lunch to all children accompanied by an adult. DeWine said over the weekend that school closures could continue through the end of the school year.


DeWine and LaRose, both Republicans, asked a judge on Monday to suspend the Tuesday primary, since neither official has the ability on his own. LaRose said the recommendation is to cancel in-person voting Tuesday, allow absentee balloting to continue, and move in-person voting to June 2. DeWine said it didn’t make sense to be telling Ohioans, especially those 65 and older, to stay home but also go to polling places Tuesday. “We should not force them to make this choice, the choice between their health and their constitutional rights and their duties as American citizens,” DeWine said.


With numerous businesses ordered temporarily closed, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services said it had received 12,000 unemployment insurance benefit applications online as of Sunday night, compared to under 600 the same time a week ago.


Organizers of Cincinnati’s Flying Pig Marathon, scheduled for the first weekend of May, postponed it until October. The Columbus Blue Jackets announced plans to pay Nationwide Arena staff for the hours they would have worked in the hockey team’s last five scheduled home games.


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.

By Andrew Welsh-Huggins

The Associated Press