UPDATE: DeWine issues order to track ventilators

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - UPDATE: 3/31/20 3:10 P.M.

Gov. Mike DeWine announced an order Tuesday afternoon to help keep track of ventilators across the state of Ohio.

DeWine said the order will require anyone involved in the supply chain of these ventilators to report their inventory online every week.

Along with mechanical ventilators, other devices to be reported are C-PAP and B-PAP machines commonly used to treat sleep apnea, as well as anesthetic machines and various treatment masks and tubing.

Hospitals, manufacturers, retails stores, and anyone else involved in the chain of supply must report their inventories online at coronavirus.ohio.gov/VentInventory by 5 p.m. each Wednesday. The first report is due tomorrow.

DeWine says the state is also working to secure more ventilators.

The governor also confirmed there have now been 55 deaths due to COVID-19 in Ohio, as well as 2,199 confirmed cases.

UPDATE: 3/22/20 3:00 P.M.

Ohio Department Director Amy Acton has signed an Ohio Health Director’s order instructing Ohioans to stay at home. In other states, this has been called a “shelter in place order.” The order will go into effect Monday night at 11:59 p.m. and will last until April 6th, 2020.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine says the order will be up online later today for Ohioans to view. He says there’s nothing in the order that he hasn’t already asked Ohioans to do.

“What we do now we’ll make all the difference in the world. What we do now will slow this invader,” said DeWine.

During his Sunday press conference, DeWine went over a few exceptions to staying at home, including: leaving home for necessary activities, getting necessary supplies, for outdoor activity (such as walking a dog), health and safety reasons, to take care of others, and essential work.

In addition, during his press conference Sunday afternoon, DeWine said he is asking the Ohio General Assembly to work on legislation to forgo state mandated testing for Ohio students.

As for daycares, 117,000 kids were in public daycares in Ohio before the pandemic. DeWine says it’s now down to 17,000. He then announced that starting Thursday centers must operate under a special pandemic license with a maximum of six children per room.

Dr. Acton says there are 351 confirmed cases in Ohio as of Sunday. The age range of the afflicted is 1 to 93 years, though the median age is 53. There are 83 hospitalizations. There are still just 3 deaths. The virus is confirmed over 40 counties in Ohio.

UPDATE: 3/21/20 9:30 P.M.

Saturday evening, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources confirmed the twelfth case of COVID-19 in West Virginia, prompting Governor Jim Justice to draw comparisons to New York.

Justice noted the state of New York is a state roughly ten times as populous as the mountain state. He said proportionally, West Virginia is about where New York was ten days ago in confirmed COVID-19 cases.

“The big $64 question is just this, we don’t want to end up ten days from today where New York is today,” said Justice.

He then said the sooner West Virginians take action, the better off the state will be in the long run.

“I hate to alarm you in any way, shape, form or fashion, but we’ve got to move and we’ve got to move right now to save additional lives,” Justice said.

With that said, Justice says the state will not go under complete lockdown at this time. However, the governor did once again ask businesses in West Virginia to allow employees to work from home. Justice also how proud he is of seniors who are staying at home during this pandemic.

UPDATE: 3/21/20 7:11 P.M.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Ohio, adult day services for people with developmental disabilities are to close with the exception of settings of ten people or less. DeWine does this as he is assured each person with a need for these services will be taken care of in other ways.

“There are a large number of people in adult day services who are aging, and who have health conditions that make them particularly at-risk. Many people live in family or group settings and then travel to their adult day services creating increased exposure, when they go and when they come back,” said DeWine.

As of Saturday evening, Ohio has 247 confirmed cases of COVID-19, spanning 33 counties. Three people have died from the virus in the buckeye state. Of the afflicted, 108 are females, 139 are males. There are 58 hospitalizations.

Now DeWine is asking Ohioans to ask themselves what he asks himself every night which is “Did I do everything today that I could do to stop this?”

UPDATE: 3/19/20 8:00 P.M.

Thursday, Ohio is up to 119 confirmed cases of COVID-19, up from 88 Wednesday.

Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton says there are 76 males and 43 females afflicted. Their ages range from two to 91 years old.

During today’s news conference Ohio Governor Mike DeWine invited Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor of the Ohio Supreme Court to discuss judicial issues related to the pandemic. She told local officials to find ways to limit time in courtrooms, but not eliminate access to courtrooms, among other suggestions.

“I urge judges to use their discretion to release people held in jail and release incarcerated individuals who are in a high-risk category for being infected with the virus,” said Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor.

She also suggested staying warrants based on traffic offenses.

Following this DeWine says all internet cafes, legal or not, are to shut down.

He also addressed local governments wishing to conduct business remotely, which he approves of so long as the press is given ample notice and access to those meetings.

He and Lt. Governor Jon Husted both addressed growing concerns over grocery store stock.

“We’ve talked to everyone that would know about this, but the grocery supply chain is doing well, so you don’t have to think the food is going to run out in the grocery store,” said DeWine. He went on to say the stores simply can't restock the shelves as quickly as items are removed due to such high demand.

And on the topic of stock, DeWine says there is a shortage of thermometers in Ohio.

In West Virginia, Governor Jim Justice is asking all the barbershops and salons to shut down.

He also said all West Virginia University classes have moved online for the rest of the semester.

And he denied rumors that roads will be closed.

“You know, I don’t know why these crazy rumors keep going around, but we are not shutting down our interstates or West Virginia roads,” said Justice.

As businesses are closing down, Justice says unemployment benefits are to be expanded for those affected by the COVID-19 virus, including those who are prevented from working.

“The fastest way to file for benefits is online, we have removed all of the obstacles as far as the week waiting period and all this kind of stuff to where we can start distributing funds to you immediately,” said Justice.

Justice also reassured the public that supply lines are tact and even though some feeding programs have hit bumps, the state is working to make sure kids get fed.

As of Thursday night at 8 p.m., there are still just two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in West Virginia.

UPDATE: 3/18/20 8:37 P.M.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine held a press conference Thursday discussing statistics and state closures in the buckeye state.

He announced 181 Bureau of Motor Vehicles offices will close at the end of the business day Thursday. Five will remain open to issue Commercial Driver Licenses. DeWine is also ordering all salons, tattoo parlors, spas and barber shops close at the end of the day Thursday. He made a point to say libraries are not being asked to close at this time, but counties and individual libraries may decide to close.

“We are at war with a very, very dangerous, lethal enemy. This virus’s mission is to reproduce and for it go from person to person, it needs our help. It cannot do its damage without us,” said DeWine.

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Action says as of Thursday, there are 26 hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in the buckeye state. At the same time, there were 88 confirmed cases in 19 counties of the virus in Ohio, however no deaths from the virus have been confirmed there.

DeWine and Acton are asking Ohioans not to request testing right away, even if you are showing symptoms of the virus.

“You already know through the news we have a shortage of swabs,” said Acton. “We’re talking about limiting our testing to those who are hospitalized and most sick and most at risk.”

In West Virginia, a second case of COVID-19 confirmed late Thursday.
Governor Justice says he will be asking the federal government for better equipment to prepare hospitals.

“If we could have that equipment on standby in case we would have an overload in our hospitals that we have to go to a place that has a considerable amount of beds that are available. You know, we need to look at that,” said Justice.

As for mountain state closures:

“In the last 24 hours, we’ve asked that for two weeks that we close all the restaurants, all the bars, all the casinos, well today we’re broadening that a bit. Today we are going to ask that for two weeks all the gyms, health clubs and recreational facilities close,” said Justice.
The governor says West Virginians should remain calm.

“All the things that we have to have from the standpoint of being able to get gas or whatever it may be, they’re going to be open. We don’t need to absolutely panic and we don’t need to panic buy. We absolutely need to just stay calm,” said Justice.

Wrapping up, Justice said in February, West Virginia saw 5,300 people apply for unemployment. On Wednesday alone, 1,200 applied.

The Ohio Democratic Party has filed a lawsuit over Secretary of State Frank LaRose's decision to set a new state primary election date. It said in its filing Tuesday that power rests only with the Legislature.

But politicians on both sides of the aisle are expressing frustration after the primary was postponed because of coronavirus concerns.

Republican Gov. Mike DeWine announced the decision late Monday after a judge ruled against his request that in-person voting be delayed to avoid crowding at polling places.

Messages were left seeking comment from LaRose and the state attorney general, who represents him.

UPDATE: 3/17/20 2:30 P.M.

Ohio has rescheduled its primary elections for June 2, according to information provided Tuesday afternoon by the Washington County Board of Elections.

The election had been scheduled for Tuesday, but it was postponed by order issued late Monday night by the Ohio Department of Health.

The order came after a judge in Franklin County Common Pleas Court denied Gov. Mike DeWine's request to postpone the election because of concerns about the COVID-19 virus.

Voters may still cast an absentee ballot, which can be obtained by going to the Board of Elections website or by calling the board's office at 740-374-6828.

Update: 3/16/2020 11:15 P.M.

Ohio's health director has ordered polls closed just hours before they were to open there and in three other states for presidential primaries.

Gov. Mike DeWine's office said late Monday that Health Director Amy Acton declared a health emergency and order the polls closed for fears of exposing voters and volunteer poll workers to coronavirus.

Arizona, Florida and Illinois were proceeding with their presidential primaries. DeWine failed to get a judge to halt the primary Monday evening and said the election results wouldn't be viewed as legitimate in light of the pandemic that has paralyzed the nation. 

Update: 3/16/2020 8:15 P.M.

Ohio's Tuesday primary is in limbo after a county judge rejected a request championed by Gov. Mike DeWine and Secretary of State Frank LaRose to postpone it until June 2 to avoid the spread of the coronavirus.

An appeal was possible.

DeWine said Monday that people shouldn't have to choose between their health and their constitutional rights.

A judge said the change was not warranted. The leaders said they'll push for the action through a lawsuit since they don't have the authority themselves.

DeWine on Monday also ordered the closing of gyms, bowling alleys, rec centers and movie theaters.

Update: 3/16/2020 7:55 P.M.

A Franklin County judge has rejected a request by Governor Mike DeWine to postpone Ohio's Tuesday presidential primary.

Reports indicate, however, the ruling can be repealed, meaning it could be late in the evening before the status of the March 17 in-person voting is clear.

UPDATE: 3/16/20 3:40 P.M.

Gov. DeWine announced Monday afternoon that it is clear Tuesday's in-person voting "does not and can not conform to current CDC guidelines surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic."

Gov. DeWine is recommending that in-person voting be postponed until June 2. Ohio's primary was set for Tuesday, March 17.

Gov. DeWine says he does not have the power to extend an election as he is suggesting. Gov. DeWine says a lawsuit will be filed Monday in common pleas court in Franklin County.

The governor is also recommending absentee ballots be allowed between now and June 2.

"No one should have to choose between their constitutional rights and their health," Gov. Dewine said.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has ordered for several businesses, including gyms and movie theaters, to close amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

He says this covers all gyms, fitness centers, recreation centers, bowling alleys, indoor water parks, movie theaters and trampoline parks across the state until further notice.

All the impacted businesses will close by day's end Monday.

The Ohio Department of Health has announced the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state has gone up.

According to health officials, 50 cases have now been confirmed.

The cases have been confirmed in 12 different counties.

UPDATE: 3/15/20 4:40 P.M.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said during a news conference Sunday that bars and restaurants will close indefinitely after 9 p.m. Sunday night. He clarified that takeout and delivery services may remain open.
He says the state does this as statistics are showing the longer the virus is allowed to spread, more people will die.

“If we do not act, and stop and break up these groups, and get some distance, people, our health care system in Ohio will not hold up,” said DeWine.

He says the danger is not just to COVID-19 patients, but to everyone else who may be impacted by resources spent on the pandemic.

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton says 13 females and 23 males have been confirmed to have the virus in the buckeye state. Dr. Acton says reporting accurate numbers is getting difficult because new information is coming to her so quickly.

Similarly to DeWine’s remarks, Acton says the actions taken by the state are to slow the spread of COVID-19 and decrease the surge on the hospital system.

“It is a lot like a hurricane. I’ve said this before as well. You want to evacuate and make your moves. And if you’re blessed enough to see this tidal wave coming, this tsunami coming, you make these moves now and every day it decreases that exponential two to three people spread that creates the surge,” said Acton.

Acton says in a moderate COVID-19 outbreak, the U.S. can expect to need 200,000 ICU beds. She says 45,000 ICU beds are currently available, and many are currently occupied.

She says taking precautions now is vital.

“If we do these measures now, we will greatly decrease the need for these,” said Acton.

She added that anybody could be infecting workers needed to fight a pandemic, such as nurses.

Lt. Governor Jon Husted also addressed Ohioans. He thanked restaurant and bar owners for their assistance in developing these new policies. He then announced an executive order that will be signed by Gov. DeWine which changes unemployment laws.

He says workers who do not have paid leave benefits will be allowed to access unemployment benefits during this period of emergency.

“Individuals that are quarantined by a health professional or by their employer are considered unemployed and will not be subject to the requirements to actively seek employment during the period of this emergency,” said Husted.

More info on unemployment can be found at unemployment.ohio.gov

During her time at the podium, Acton said non-essential gatherings should be avoided.

“We should not go to restaurants,” said Acton. “If it is not essential, we should not be doing it.”

UPDATE: 3/15/20 3:47 P.M.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced Sunday afternoon that restaurants and bars will be closing their doors in Ohio after 9 p.m. Sunday.

He clarified that take-out and delivery services are allowed to remain open.

UPDATE: 3/15/20 2:35 P.M.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced on Twitter Sunday afternoon that the state now has 36 confirmed cases of COVID-19. in comparison, he says 139 tests have come back negative and an additional 350 are currently under investigation.

He advised in another tweet that families should limit travel at this time.

"I've advised members of my own family not to travel at this time," DeWine said on Twitter.

In addition, DeWine says it is possible that Ohio schools could remain closed until the end of the school year. Speaking on CNN, he said medical experts are saying the virus may not peak until late April or May.

"It would not surprise me at all if schools did not open again this year," said DeWine.

DeWine noted that these are projections, and he is going by what medical experts are telling him and his staff.

UPDATE: 3/14/20 10:40 P.M.

According to a press release from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, no cases have been confirmed in the mountain state, as of 9:30 p.m. Saturday.

The press release says 39 people have been tested by the public health lab. 38 tests came back negative and the other one is still pending.

UPDATE 3/14/20 6:38 P.M.

A press release from the West Virginia Governor's office says schools in the state will remain closed to students through at least March 27th.

Staff determined essential by each county board of education will report to work between March 16th and 18th to come up with a plan on how best to serve students.

Then, all teachers and staff are to report to schools on the 19th and 20th. Beyond that, it is up to each board of education to determine who reports to work.

UPDATE 3/14/20 3:22 P.M.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said in a press conference on Saturday that the state is continuing to see an expected rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases. Ohio Department of Health said in the same address that there are 26 confirmed cases of the virus in Ohio, as of March 14th.

DeWine said the rise should not alarm anyone. He says there is more testing going on in the state and there are people who are spreading it.

"Many people simply do not know they have it, and some of those individuals will never know they had it," said DeWine.

DeWine noted that "the young," are the most likely not to show symptoms.

UPDATE 3/13/2020 10:43 P.M.

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) reports there are no confirmed cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in West Virginia.

As Friday night, West Virginia, through its public health lab, has tested 31 residents for COVID-19, with 26 results coming back negative and 5 pending.

UPDATE: 3/13/2020 8:30 P.M.

Another day, another cancellation. West Virginia Governor Jim Justice announced that West Virginia schools would close after classes ended on Friday. He did not definitively say how long they would be closed.

“We did not announce that we’re shutting schools down, but now that we’ve got a lot more information and everything else, and like I said I’m not going to put that on anybody but me, but that’s what we’re going to do,” said Justice.

He noted that children carry the virus, and could take it to the state’s large elderly population.

“And the elderly is where this monster attacks,” said Justice.
As for students who rely on school programs for food or other services, the state is working on guidance for schools.

“That’s why we’ve got the weekend to get everything in place to take care of those kids. We are already working on it like crazy,” said Justice.

Wood County Schools superintendent, Will Hosaflook, confirmed that starting Monday, families can pick up lunch from any Wood County school from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Families will also be given breakfast for the next day.

Outside of schools, Justice is recommending West Virginians limit out of state travel and to avoid large crowds.

The mountain has yet to confirm a case of COVID-19.

“I mean let’s be real. It has to be here, we just haven’t found it yet,” said Justice.

In Ohio, Governor Mike DeWine updated the public on the corona virus situation in his state. Noting the election taking place on Tuesday.

“Polling places are taking precautions, there was hand sanitizer everywhere, where I walked in at Xenia,” said DeWine.

And while Kindergarten through 12th grade students are out of school in Ohio (officially starting after classes Monday), daycare facilities will remain open for the time being.

“Our daycare facilities… we are not closing them at this point, but that is something that may occur in the future,” said DeWine.

The Governor said on Thursday that the state could expect to see a rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases, and Friday at least 8 new cases were confirmed.

Those numbers are expected to keep rising as more test results come out, and Ohio is testing more and more.

UPDATE: 3/12/2020 P.M.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has announced a ban on gatherings of more than 100 people. The ban excludes religious events like church services, funerals and free speech protected gatherings. This was announced alongside a mass cancellation school for Kindergarten through 12th grade students. According to tweets from his official gubernatorial twitter, the cancellation will begin after school Monday, March 16th and will last three weeks, until April 3rd. At the end of those three weeks, the situation will be re-evaluated.

These announcements followed Ohio confirming its fifth case of corona virus Thursday. The afflicted is a Trumbull County man.

In a press release shared to Twitter, DeWine’s office said “…schools should work to provide education through alternative means.”

Schools have also been given the power to determine how their buildings are used. The same release says schools will be given guidance on how to continue important student services, such as providing meals.

These announcements come shortly after Washington County Schools met with the county health department officials to planning for the outbreak. Some districts announced online that all Washington County schools K-12 would remain open for the foreseeable future.

The Belpre City Schools Board of Education held an emergency meeting Thursday afternoon to discuss the announcement.

“We modified our calendar to comply with the governor’s request that we remain closed for three weeks. For calendar purposes, this next week has been made our spring break week and then if we are able to return in three weeks we would return to school on the 7th, and not go on spring break, which is what it would have looked like, ” said Belpre Superintendent Jeff Greenley.

The school board also decided to move Belpre’s spring break from its original date in April to next week, to comply with Governor DeWine’s orders and to get students back into school as quickly as possible. Greenley says Thursday will be Belpre’s last day with students until DeWine’s three weeks are up. Friday, March 13th was a previously scheduled teacher work day.

Greenley says he and school board members are conscious of students who rely on school lunches for food. He says they are working on a solution.

“We have requested a waiver from USDA to be able to provide meals during the outage- or school cancellation. But we think it’s going to take us about a week to iron out the details,” said Greenley.

West Virginia has yet to announce school closures at a state level, though Governor Jim Justice has announced that the state high school basketball tournaments have been suspended. He announced this while games were ongoing and said that once the current games were finished, the tournament would stop for the time being.

“I surely know what our state basketball tournament means to us. Bernie Dolan is right there in the back, and I’ve met with Bernie and I’ve instructed Bernie that after the session we’re playing right now, shut it down,” said Justice.

Locally, Wood County Schools have decided to remain open for the time being. Superintendent Will Hosaflook says they are doing everything they can to stop spread.

“Right now, this a very fluid, changing environment, so to say, a very fluid environment. So split second decision, right now, we have school. School is going on tomorrow. School will go on Monday, but at any given moment, any given minute, we may have to cancel school,” said Hosaflook.

Hosaflook added that social events have been suspended in Wood County Schools.

No cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the mountain state, but as of this story being written, three cases are under investigation.

“The risk today is not dramatically different than yesterday,” said Secretary of DHHR Dr. Catherine Slemp said.

With that said, Governor Justice also asked West Virginians to carefully consider out of state travel.

“Today I’m issuing a state employee travel ban, on both out of state and international travels for our state businesses. I am asking all West Virginians to reconsider all non-essential travel out of this state.”

Justice is also asking nursing homes to restrict visitors, unless the person is in especially poor condition. Ohio nursing homes are pushing for more restrictions, according to DeWine.

Governor Justice has already announced another press conference scheduled for Friday morning at 11 a.m.

UPDATE: 3/12/2020 05:30 P.M.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has issued an order banning all gatherings of more than 100 people as the state looks for ways to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

It's unclear how long the order will remain in effect.

The order defines mass gatherings "as any event or convening that brings together 100 or more persons in a single room or single space at the same time such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, large conference room, meeting hall, theater, or any other confined indoor or outdoor space."

It includes all parades, fairs, and festivals, but does not include normal operations of airports, bus and train stations, medical facilities, libraries, shopping malls and centers, or other spaces where 100 or more persons might be in transit.

It also does not include typical office environments, schools, restaurants, factories or retail/grocery stores where large numbers of people are present.

Health officials also announced there are five confirmed cases Ohio now has five confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state.

The latest case involves a 55-year-old Trumbull County man who is currently hospitalized. The man has no travel history outside of Ohio.

DeWine said he and health officials expect the number of cases to continue to increase as medical experts have predicted that the number will continue to double every six days.

In addition, the governor said in a news release that the Ohio Department of Health, at the urging of the nursing-home industry, will be updating its current order limiting visitors to nursing and assisted -living homes to reflect that no visitors will be admitted.

UPDATE: 3/12/20

The Belpre City Schools Board of Education has called an emergency meeting Thursday afternoon to discuss Gov. Mike DeWine's order closing all public schools for three weeks because of the coronavirus.

The meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. at the Stone Administration Building, 2014 Rockland Ave.

We will have reporter at the meeting and will provide updates online and during our evening newscasts.


All public schools in Ohio will be closed for three weeks starting next week as state leaders try to come to grips with the spreading coronavirus, Gov. Mike DeWine announced during a news conference Thursday afternoon in Columbus.

"We will continue to consult with educators on this," DeWine said on Twitter. "We have to take this action. We have to do everything we can to slow down the spread of this virus."

The closing will go into effect after school on Monday and continue at least through April 1, DeWine said.

The latest numbers from the Ohio Department of Health show five confirmed cases of the virus in the state. Another 52 are under investigation, and 30 tests have come back negative.

The decision to closes schools for an "extended spring break" follows an announcement Thursday morning by the Ohio High School Athletic Association that it had postponed all winter-sports tournaments, including this week's girls state basketball tournament at St. John's Arena in Columbus.

The has already placed restrictions on visitors to nursing homes and correctional facilities in an effort to prevent COVID-19 virus from spreading.

"We know #COVID19 will spread, but by slowing it down it'll allow our healthcare system to work," DeWine said. "We don't want our healthcare providers to have to make the decision of who lives and who dies."

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