Ohio confirms first coronavirus cases, continues testing

By Andrew Welsh-Huggins - Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A look at developments related to the new coronavirus as Ohio confirms its first three cases and continues to test for additional cases.


Health officials said three people have tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 and are quarantined at home. All three — a husband and wife who were on a Nile cruise, and a man who attended the America Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington, D.C. — are in their mid-50s and are from Cuyahoga County. Ohio is currently testing 15 people who have shown symptoms of respiratory distress and has cleared another 14 people through testing. The state is monitoring an additional 255 people whose travels put them at risk but who aren’t showing any symptoms of illness.


Gov. Mike DeWine has “strongly” recommended that spectators be prohibited from attending indoor high school, college, and professional sports games, including upcoming March Madness college basketball games. DeWine says the same should be true for any large indoor event including concerts. The Ohio State High School Athletic Association said it will comply and have “limited spectators” at upcoming state tournament games. The organization planned to issue guidance on Wednesday as to how the games will proceed. DeWine said people have a First Amendment right to attend political rallies but he also questioned the wisdom of doing so because of the events’ size. In response, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders canceled a rally scheduled in Cleveland Tuesday night. DeWine also recommended that all colleges in the state screen students returning from overseas trips and move to online classes whenever possible.

The governor has cancelled visitations at the state’s adult and youth prisons, and has encouraged state employees to work from home when feasible. DeWine has issued a state of emergency allowing Ohio to buy health-related supplies without bidding out contracts. State Health Department Director Dr. Amy Acton said people should restrict contact with those deemed vulnerable to the disease, who can include the elderly, people with lung and heart disease, people whose immune systems may be compromised, and people who are severely overweight. She also said people should wash their hands frequently, avoid touching their faces, shield their coughs, and stay home if they’re not feeling well.


Secretary of State Frank LaRose said Tuesday that 128 polling locations will be moved out of nursing homes for the March 17 primary. He also suggested people vote by mail if possible, and ordered Ohio’s boards of elections to make curbside drop-off available for absentee ballots on Election Day. LaRose said he’s working with boards of elections on best practices for cleaning voting machines and making sure elections officials have enough supplies.


Public universities Ohio State University, the University of Akron, the University of Toledo, and Kent State University and private colleges Case Western Reserve University and John Carroll University were among schools cancelling in-person classes and moving instruction online at least through March. The Ohio Supreme Court canceled a dispute resolution conference on Tuesday expected to bring 500 judges, magistrates and others to Columbus. DeWine canceled a state insurance fund for injured workers’ conference which was scheduled to bring 8,000 to Columbus beginning Wednesday. The Jewish Federation of Cleveland said a staff member was one of the people diagnosed with coronavirus and is closing its education center for two weeks.


“The decisions we make as individuals in the next few days, the next several weeks, will really determine how many lives will be lost in Ohio. It will also determine how long this is going to last.”

— Gov. Mike DeWine


For most people, the new coronavirus 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.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover. In mainland China, where the virus first exploded, more than 80,000 people have been diagnosed and more than 58,000 have so far recovered.


The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

By Andrew Welsh-Huggins

Associated Press