Ohio is shutting down most Bureau of Motor Vehicles locations effective Wednesday night, while instructing law enforcement to stop issuing tickets for expired driver's licenses.
At his daily coronavirus press conference Wednesday, Gov. Mike DeWine also announced the state is issuing public health orders to close all barber shops, salons, spas and tattoo shops.
The state is closing 181 BMV registrar offices, with just five remaining open to issue commercial drivers licenses. All other services will go online, continue through mail or pause entirely. All 52 driver examination stations will also shutter at the end of business Wednesday.
DeWine is asking the state legislature to pass a grace period for people who need to renew licenses.
The Ohio Department of Health on Wednesday reported 88 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 19 counties. Of those, 26 people have been hospitalized.
The youngest patient in Ohio is a 2-year-old child, with the oldest being 91. However, no deaths related to COVID-19 have yet been reported.
Businesses, non-profits and other organizations that stay open must follow guidelines around social distancing and other health rules. DeWine noted that includes libraries and volunteering.
"Even if you're doing the Lord's work, important things, please observe the distance rule," he says.
Businesses are recommended to take the temperatures of all employees coming into the office, DeWine says, and should be "aggressive" in cleaning surfaces, having hand sanitizer available and sending sick employees home.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted noted the state has received 78,000 requests for unemployment compensation in just the last three days. He compared that number to two weeks ago, when the state received just 6,500 requests.
The governor and Health Department director Amy Acton emphasized that Ohio's coronavirus testing capacity is limited, and will likely remain so.
“The vast majority of Ohioans who have symptoms do not need to get tested for the coronavirus," DeWine said.
People who believe they have COVID-19, DeWine urges, should act like they already do and stay isolated. If their symptoms worsen and they have trouble breathing, Ohioans should seek medical care.
"With or without a test, the virus is here," DeWine said. "It lives among us, and we must be at war with it."
The Ohio Department of Health makes the following recommendations to protect yourself from illness:
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; dry hands with a clean towel or air dry hands.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are unavailable.
- Cover your mouth with a tissue or sleeve when sneezing or coughing. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick.
Ohio's coronavirus call center is open to answer questions from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. The hotline number is 1-833-4-ASK-ODH or 1-833-427-5634. More information is available at coronavirus.ohio.gov.