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A rundown of how coronavirus has affected Central Ohio

614now Staff

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Arnold Sports Fest partially cancelled

Gov. DeWine announced that the athletic competition will still go on but without spectators or the trade show because of coronavirus fears, the state and city announced Tuesday. Spectators will only be allowed to attend the Arnold Classic finals.

“Things are rapidly evolving, and given the uniqueness of this particular event, we must do anything we can to slow the spread of the disease into Ohio and keep our guests and citizens as safe as we can,” DeWine said, according to The Dispatch.

Health officials screening Arnold athletes at airport

More than 22,000 athletes from 80 different countries will begin competing in the Arnold Classic starting Thursday. Columbus Public Health Department has set up a booth in the John Glenn Columbus International Airport to screen all Arnold athletes, judges, sponsors, and performers to mitigate the risk of the coronavirus spreading in Columbus, reports ABC6.

Testing kits

The Centers for Disease Control is expected to provide the Ohio Department of Health with coronavirus testing kits this week, reports ABC6. After validating the kits, the health department will begin testing patients.

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Monitoring elderly population

With five of the nine coronavirus deaths in the USA occurring in an assisted living facility near Seattle, local nursing homes are preparing by issuing informative memos to staff, posting CDC guidelines around the buildings, purchasing more medical supplies, ordering protective equipment for employees, and even setting up a coronavirus hotline. Read more at ABC6.

Kroger begins rationing healthcare products

According to a notice posted on the company website, Kroger is setting a limit on the number of products consumers can purchase amid flu and coronavirus concerns. See below for the statement.

“Due to high demand and to support all customers, we will be limiting the number of Sanitization, Cold and Flu related products to 5 each per order. Your order may be modified at time of pickup or delivery.”

Ohio Department of Health continues to test potential cases of coronavirus in Ohio

So far, there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state, but the Ohio Department of Health is currently waiting on test results for one potential patient. Officials per WKSU say the Ohioan under investigation exhibits symptoms of respiratory illness and either recently traveled to China or interacted with someone known to have the virus.  Seven people in Ohio have been tested for coronavirus, but all have been negative.

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DeWine announces guidelines for Ohio schools to return this fall

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During a COVID-19 briefing on Thursday, Gov. Mike DeWine announced guidelines “backed by science” that Ohio public schools will need to follow upon reopening in the fall.

Key points from the press conference include:

  • vigilantly assessing for symptoms
  • washing and sanitizing hands to prevent spread
  • thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing school environment to limit spread on shared surfaces
  • practicing social distancing
  • a face-covering policy.

“The risks of being in school outweigh the risks of not being in there,” said Dr. Chris Peter, the president-elect of the American Academy of Pediatrics, also citing that some kids were missing pediatric appointments due to not attending school.

On Tuesday, Columbus City Schools Superintendent and CEO Dr. Talisa Dixon and the Reopening Task Force outlined a safety recommendation plan for Columbus schools, which includes:

  • early childhood students using a blended model based on each child’s individual needs
  • grades K-8 attending school using a blended in-person/online learning model
  • and grades 9-12 attending school remotely full-time from home for at least the first two quarters of the school year.

DeWine mentioned that there was a strong consensus among teachers, principals, and the public around Ohio that kids “need to get back in a building” to learn.

DeWine and state officials talked with dozens of teachers, superintendents, school officials, and medical experts when putting together the document for Ohio school reopening guidance.

“We have an obligation, all of us, to educate our children and keep them safe,” DeWine said.

At the time of the press conference, the webpage featuring the guidance for reopening schools had been hacked. You can find the state’s resources on COVID-19 here.

DeWine mentioned that the recommendation was that students in third grade and up should wear a face mask, with a strong recommendation for those in sixth grade and up.

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Ginther signs executive order requiring masks in public

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On Thursday afternoon, the City of Columbus held a virtual press conference, in which Mayor Andrew J. Ginther signed an executive order that requires residents to wear masks in public starting tomorrow.

Key points of the conference include:

  • Young people under the age of six and those trying to communicate with someone hearing impaired will NOT be required to wear masks.
  • Places like stores, businesses, and outdoor crowds will require a mask, but people will not be cited by the Columbus police for not wearing one.
  • Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts led off the press conference discussing three simple things people can do to slow the spread of COVID-19: Avoid large gatherings and maintain social distancing in public; wash your hands with soap and water and use hand sanitizer when those aren’t readily available; and wear a mask.

“In the last few weeks, we’ve gotten growing data that supports how masks are very effective in reducing the spread of the virus within the community,” Roberts said.

Ginther, Roberts, Alex Fischer–President and CEO of the Columbus Partnership–and Chris Suel–Director of My Brothers Keeper Village–were all in attendance to give the address.

Roberts mentioned that she would be making a recommendation to reduce bar capacity by 50 percent and decrease hours of operation. Restaurants and bars won’t be cited if they choose not to follow this recommendation.

Since June 10, Columbus Public Health has significantly ramped up testing, with over 2,800 tests between then and now; 1,500 tests have been administered outside of the CPH system, including increased tests of asymptomatic and people with mild symptoms.

A silver lining has been that Columbus hasn’t seen an increase in hospitalizations, only cases. Roberts mentioned that, currently, 11 percent of cases require hospitalization, with only 20 percent of those requiring treatment in the ICU.

“More testing alone can’t explain why we’re seeing these increasing numbers in our community,” Roberts said.

Ginther made mention of the city’s Masks Equal Kindness Campaign, which has been making strong recommendations toward Columbus residents to wear masks.

“I know we’re fatigued, we’re tired, we’re stressed, and in some cases overwhelmed...but this is an opportunity for this incredible community...to take personal responsibility and do their part to protect the safety and health of our neighbors.”

Mayor Andrew J. Ginther at a press conference on Thursday


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I pledge allegiance…to the mask

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With Buckeyes set to return to Ohio State University’s campus this fall, a mask will be one of the requirements as students, faculty, and staff head back.

The university announced on Wednesday in an email that those returning to campus would need to wear a mask indoors and sign a pledge “to affirm their understanding of what is needed to help fight the spread of the virus and their intention to do their part.”

The pledge has not been finalized yet.

On top of having to wear a mask in indoor settings and having to sign the pledge, Ohio State students, faculty, and staff will have to complete health and safety training modules.

Ohio State has created a website dedicated to campus-related COVID-19 information. You can find that information here.

What is your opinion on the mask pledge? Mask off? Will this hold up come August? Sound off in the comments below!

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