COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Police officers and health investigators will be making safety checks at Ohio’s bars after photos on social media showed people drinking on crowded patios during the first weekend that bars and restaurants were allowed to reopen, Gov. Mike DeWine said Monday.
The governor warned that bar owners could wind up in court or lose their liquor licenses if they don’t take steps to control their customers.
“Our economic recovery in the state of Ohio is tied directly in how successful we are stopping the spread of the coronavirus,” DeWine said.
Health departments, including those in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus, were investigating several complaints about a lack of social distancing at crowed bars and restaurants over the weekend.
Friday was the first day that establishments were allowed to resume outdoor dining and drinking.
The Ohio Restaurant Association wrote in an email to members Saturday evening that there were concerns about reports of establishments not operating in accord with the governor’s guidelines, which includes requiring customers to be seated when eating or drinking.
The organization said it’s likely “these are isolated incidents and not reflective of our industry’s overall positive response to reopening safely.”
Here are the latest coronavirus-related developments in Ohio:
Health officials in Toledo have started an investigation after learning a person with a confirmed case of the coronavirus was at a barbershop on Friday, the first day Ohio’s beauty salons and barbershops were allowed to reopen.
Officials with The Toledo-Lucas County Health Department said Monday that they want to talk with anyone who was at Bob’s Barber Shop in Curtice on Friday.
The number of confirmed and probable deaths associated with the coronavirus in Ohio has reached 1,657, state health officials said Monday.
The Ohio Department of Health also said that 32 new deaths were reported in the past day and that overall there have been a total of 5,000 hospitalizations.
Health officials said there were now more than 28,000 cases considered either confirmed or probable.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple of weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.
A nurse who worked for the prison system at its Correctional Reception Center in central Ohio died Sunday, becoming the third department employee to die from the virus, a spokeswoman said Monday.
Meanwhile, the prison system is reducing widespread testing in favor of testing inmates who show signs of COVID-19, The Columbus Dispatch reported. The approach better protects inmates, staff and the community, spokeswoman JoEllen Smith told the paper.
“Testing only detects the presence of the virus at a point in time and does not detect the amount of virus in the body,” she said. “A person could test negative one day and test positive the next.”
Four inmates housed at three Ohio prisons — Marion, Richland, and Allen correctional institutions — have filed a federal lawsuit to enforce social distancing, get access to cleaning supplies and increase the number of inmates being released. More than 4,500 inmates have tested positive and 62 have died at seven institutions.
Seewer reported from Toledo.