Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has been at the forefront of instituting measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, including shutting down Ohio’s public schools, postponing the state’s presidential primary and putting the state on a stay-at-home order, similar to other states’ shelter-in-place orders, effective March 23 until April 6.
“We are at war,” Dewine said in a press conference announcing the order. “And in a time of war, we have to make sacrifices.”
Ohio has 704 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of 2 p.m. on March 25. There are 182 hospitalized with the virus and 10 confirmed deaths in the state. Hamilton County has 48 confirmed cases.
The order is the most recent closure and mandates that all Ohioans discontinue nonessential travel. This mandate comes after weeks of limitations and closures across the state.
DeWine asked universities to transition to online learning Tuesday, March 10, to which Xavier complied. That next sunday, March 15, Ohio became the first state to limit all bars and restaurants to through drive-thru or carry-out options.
Ohio was the first state to move all public K-12 schools to remote learning, starting Monday, March 16, and lasting for three weeks. DeWine noted in a press conference that day that he is currently unsure if schools will reopen this year. Kansas governor Laura Kelly was the first to mandate the closure of schools for the remainder of the school year on March 17.
DeWine originally prohibited gatherings of 100 and later 50 people or more to comply with the latest CDC recommendations. Currently citizens are encouraged to limit gatherings to 10 people or less.
DeWine recommended early Monday, March 16, that primary voting be delayed until June 2, the last possible day for primaries prior to the Democratic and Republican nominations.
An Ohio judge rejected DeWine’s request to delay the primary, but DeWine later announced that Ohio Health Director Amy Acton would declare a health emergency in order to close the polls.
She noted that the delay was executed in order to prevent “widespread exposure” to the general population, including those most vulnerable to health complications associated with COVID-19.
The late call, however, threw poll workers into disarray
Ultimately the Ohio was sucesfully postponed until June 2. While elections in Arizona, Florida and Illinois went ahead as planned, Georgia, Kentucky and Lousiana delayed theirs.
President Donald Trump noted in a press conference on Monday that he did not support postponing the primaries, but would ultimately leave it up to the states.
DeWine and Acton’s shelter-in-place order mandated Sunday went into effect at midnight Tuesday morning. The order required all nonessential businesses to shut down and restricted most intrastate travel. Those who work in healthcare, the food and grocery industry, pharmacies, funeral homes, police officers and other first responders are the only employees allowed to attend work in person.
Exemptions to the travel rule include trips to the grocery store, medical facilities, pharmacies and obtaining necessary work or automobile supplies. Individuals can also leave their homes to assist others, including family, friends, pets, and exercise, as well as attend weddings and funerals.
Police officers in several counties have publicly announced that they will not actively pull over drivers to check that they are leaving for essential business. This contrast with other approaches by law enforcement , such as Hawaiim citizens’ possible $5,000 fine for breaking their shelter-in-place order.
Other states have issued mandates, but many governors have issued only advisory messages and strong recommendations for citizens to remain in their homes.
New Mexico governor Michelle Lujan Grisham noted that her advisory was essentially the same as mandates which other states are enforcing. She stated, “This is quite frankly an instruction to stay home.”
DeWine, who emphasized that the mandate should be called a stay-at-home order instead of a shelter-in-place order, shares this reticence of vocabulary with New York governor Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo requested that his state’s mandate be thought as a pause, saying, “Words matter.”
Ohio was the fourth state to make an order following California, New York and Illinois. Currently, 17 states have mandated shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders for the entire state. Smaller municipalities such as counties and cities within 11 other states have mandated similar orders, affecting at least 175 million people.
In a press conference on March 24, Trump told reporters that he hoped to have shelter-in-place orders lifted by April 12, saying “I’d love to have the country opened up and ready to go by Easter.”
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