COLUMBUS — During Friday’s news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine confirmed the first virus-related death in the state, a elderly man from the Toldeo area.
“We have now entered a new phase in our battle,” said DeWine in confirming the death.
Reading a portion of the 23rd Psalm, DeWine noted that for awhile it may seem like we are living “in the valley of death,” but that “we will get through this … it will be spring again and the sun will shine again.”
DeWine and Health Director Dr. Amy Acton both thanked the first responders and those in the medical community who are putting their lives on the line to help those who are sick.
The Governor issued an executive order on Friday ordering the closure of all senior centers and senior day care facilities effective at the close of business on Monday.
DeWine stated that he wanted the meal programs to continue through delivery, as well as needed transportation and other services to continue. These steps had previously been put in place by the Meigs County Council on Aging.
As for the senior day care facilities, DeWine stated that the centers have been preparing for the closures, ensuring that each person has a place where they can safely go during the closure. He noted that with the seniors being the most vulnerable population that it is important for the closure of the places where they could be gathered in groups.
Child day care centers remain open, with the number of children in those facilities having decreased, said DeWine.
DeWine said that he must try to balance the safety of the people of the state with the continued access to essential services, adding that the orders he has issued to this point have been done in order to save lives.
He thanked the businesses which “have done everything to comply” with the orders issued, while acknowledging that he continues to get reports of businesses who are “recklessly risking lives.”
“This simply must stop. Please do what is right,” said DeWine. “The bad behavior; the reckless behavior must stop.”
Dr. Acton emphasized the continued need for “physical distancing,” staying six feet away from another person, in helping to prevent the spread of the virus.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted spoke about best practices for businesses and individuals in working to limit the spread of the virus, noting that people should encourage employees to stay home and limit travel outside of work, send sick employees home, ban gatherings and gathering spots at work, stagger breaks to prevent congregating in the break room, encourage hand washing and limit touching their face.
Husted noted that he is hearing stories of people throughout the state, including one of people fighting over a pack of toilet paper in a grocery store aisle.
“We have to be better than that,” said Husted. He asked people to think about how they want to be remembered for acting during the current situation.
“Do you want to be remembered as being selfish or selfless,” asked Husted.
As of Friday afternoon, there were at least 170 confirmed cases in 29 counties across the state of Ohio, including on from Gallia County.
Dr. Acton stated that those cases range from Age 1 to 91 with onset of symptoms from Feb. 7 to March 18. There were 39 hospitalized as of the Friday update.
Daily news conferences by DeWine, Dr. Acton and others take place at 2 p.m. each day.
For more information on Ohio’s response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.