COLUMBUS — The state’s “stay at home” order takes effect at midnight, cases top 440, and lawmakers prepare for a mid-week session to address everything from school testing to elections. A look at coronavirus-related developments in Ohio on Monday:
Ohio has more than 440 cases and six deaths across 46 counties. The total cases involve a wide age range, from younger than 1 year old to 93. Two nursing homes, in Troy and Tipp City, have confirmed coronavirus cases, while Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton confirmed its first case over the weekend.
The state is limiting testing to those who are hospitalized and to health care workers. The Ohio Department of Health said people with suspected symptoms should call a medical provider first, but seek immediate help if symptoms are serious, such as difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
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.
Budget and taxes
Gov. Mike DeWine announced an immediate freeze in state government hiring and ordered state agencies to identify immediate budget cuts of up to 20%. He also has frozen new contract services. “The earlier we start slowing down the spending, the more impact obviously it’s going to have,” he said Monday. He expects state lawmakers will act to align the state’s income tax deadline with the adjusted federal deadline of July 15.
Beginning Thursday, all child care centers in Ohio must operate under a temporary Pandemic Child Care license and follow guidelines including no more than six children in a class and one teacher to no more than six children. Available slots will go to the children of health, safety and other essential workers first.
Last week, nearly 140,000 Ohioans filed unemployment insurance claims in one week. State officials say these numbers dwarf any previous unemployment claims. The previous high for a month came during the recession in December 1981, when 205,159 claims were filed for the entire month, according to the Department of Job and Family Services.
Over the weekend, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose proposed a plan by which postage-paid absentee ballots would be sent to every Ohioan who hadn’t already voted in the March 17 primary, along with postage to return the form. LaRose also wants continued discretion to allow in-person voting on June 2 if Gov. Mike DeWine’s “stay at home” order is no longer in place.
The Ohio Board of Pharmacy passed a new regulation this weekend to prevent hoarding of a malaria drug that President Donald Trump has suggested could treat people with the coronavirus.
The fate of the remaining school year, including graduation requirements and state-mandated testing, are among the top issues before lawmakers planning a return to Columbus this week to address challenges posted by the coronavirus.
The new normal
DeWine’s “stay at home” order permits outdoor activities such as walking, running, biking or hiking, but shuts down playgrounds because of the risk of spread the virus that causes COVID-19.