State leaders are urging people around Ohio to avoid large crowds and to do whatever they can to prevent the spread of germs, calling this a critical moment to stem the increase in coronavirus cases.
Gov. Mike DeWine is issuing several recommendations that he admits can create a disruption to everyday life, but necessary to maintain public health. He says taking these steps to delay the spread of coronavirus reduces the stress on critical medical facilities and their resources.
"We're now at a critical time here in Ohio in regard to the coronavirus," said DeWine. "The decisions we make as individuals in the next few days and in the next several weeks will really determine how many lives are going to be lost in Ohio."
The recommendations laid out by DeWine come from his health advisory panel.
For all athletic events from high school to professional leagues, DeWine is recommending that spectators not be allowed.
This includes the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Cavaliers, and the NCAA March Madness Tournament. However, DeWine stopped short of issuing a public health order and says he hopes organizers "take the appropriate action."
"The timing couldn't be worse," DeWine said, noting the NCAA March Madness Tournament games scheduled in Dayton and Cleveland. "But we can't hide this, we can't shove it under the rug, we can't ignore it, we can't wish it away, we got to call it the way it is."
Moments after DeWine unveiled his recommendations, the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) announced it would continue state high school tournaments with limited spectators.
Other recommendations include:
- Nursing homes screen visitors and vendors for an illness before entering the facility
- Faith-based organizations consider limiting practices that could cause spread of germs
- K-12 education continue but prepare for the possibility of closures
- Higher education institutions consider moving to distance learning
The state has also suspended prison visitations and added restrictions to prison entrance.
DeWine acknowledges that people may question the lengths these measures go but says they're basing these recommendations off of observing how quickly the coronavirus spreads in other countries.
"We see how fast this moves," DeWine says.
Dr. Amy Acton, Ohio Department of Health director, says preventing the spread of the virus takes a widespread effort by everyone.
"There are little things and big things that all of us will be doing in the days ahead to slow that down and really decrease the amount of impact it's going to have," says Acton.