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Morning Headlines: New Case of COVID-19; Cleveland Clinic Gets Testing Kits; More Cancellations

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At Wednesday's press conference, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton explained how the health care system could be overloaded as more cases of COVID-19 get confirmed in the state.

Here are your morning headlines for Thursday, March 12:

  • Stark County man is fourth case of COVID-19 in Ohio;
  • Cleveland Clinic to receive new coronavirus testing kits;
  • Cleveland Clinic, Mercy Health change visitor policies;
  • Hiram College, CSU, Tri-C latest to suspend in-person classes;
  • Some Northeast Ohio schools to close on Election Day;
  • DeWine to suspend nursing home visits, limit mass gatherings;
  • Places of worship begin planning;
  • Cleveland International Film Festival canceled;
  • St. Patrick's Day parades canceled;
  • Cuyahoga County judges suspend in-person trials;
  • House Democrats push economic assistance plan in wake of outbreak;
  • Cavaliers in quarantine after Jazz player confirmed with COVID-19;
  • March Madness to go on without spectators;

Stark County man is fourth case of COVID-19 in Ohio
A fourth case of COVID-19 has been confirmed in Stark County. Gov. Mike DeWine said it's the first case of "community spread," which means the 53-year-old man didn't travel or have direct contact with a COVID-19 patient. The Ohio Department of Health reports 24 individuals are being tested in the state. The World Health Organization designated the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic Wednesday, meaning the disease has spread outside containment measures across the globe.

Cleveland Clinic to receive new coronavirus testing kits
Cleveland Clinic plans to receive coronavirus testing equipment that can be done in-house and get results within eight hours. It takes up to two days when tests are sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. WEWS reports they could start using the testing kits by the end of the month. The Federal Drug Administration has loosened guidelines for who can test,including academic medical centers and private labs. The Ohio Department of Health received testing kits last week. The Clinic advises if you suspect yourself or a loved one has COVID-19 symptoms, call your primary care physician. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises to self-quarantine, avoid mass crowds and contact with others.

Cleveland Clinic, Mercy Health change visitor policies
Cleveland Clinic and Mercy Health are changing their visitation policies amid the spread of COVID-19. Mercy Health said visitors must be over 14 years old and will be screened before entering any patient areas. Those who show symptoms like coughing will be asked to leave. Visits will be limited to two hours and each patient is allowed up to two visitors. The Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton confirmed Wednesday that some Mercy Health employees are being monitored for COVID-19 symptoms. Cleveland Clinic will excuse any employee who has been exposed to or has contracted COVID-19. The Clinic also canceled all volunteer-based events, restricted international and domestic travel and is encouraging in-person meetings to be done virtually.

Hiram College, CSU, Tri-C latest to suspend in-person classes
Hiram CollegeCleveland State University and Cuyahoga Community College are the latest Northeast Ohio colleges to suspend in-person classes to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Students from Hiram and CSU are currently on spring break, which has been extended another week. School officials said students will complete assignments online until mid-April. Hiram college is also cancelling most campus events starting Wednesday through late April. Cleveland State is cancelling and rescheduling events with more than 100 people. Tri-C is suspending in-person classes until March 23. Fitness centers and pools are closed until April 1. 

Some Northeast Ohio schools will close on Election Day
A handful of school districts will be closed on Election Day because of coronavirus concerns. Districts include:

  • Akron Public Schools
  • Strongsville City Schools
  • Parma City School District (also closed March 20)
  • Cleveland Heights

Closed Thursday, March 12: 

  • Fuchs Mizrachi of Cleveland
  • Ganon Gil Preschool
  • Lake Erie International High School
  • Mayfield City Schools
  • Open Door Christian Schools
  • St. John Lutheran-Cleveland
  • St. Rita Elm

Closed Friday, March 13:

  • Chagrin Falls Exempted Village
  • Fuchs Mizrachi of Cleveland
  • Maple Hieghts City Schools
  • Open Door Christian Schools
  • St. Rita Elm
  • Twinsburg City Schools
  • Vermillion Local Schools

DeWine to suspend nursing home visits, limit mass gatherings
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said rules for nursing homes and mass gatherings will change this week following the fourth confirmed COVID-19 patient in Ohio. A 53-year-old man from Stark County started showing symptoms in February. He is the first confirmed individual who didn't travel or have direct contact with another patient. Nursing homes and assisted-living facilities will limit one visitor per patient. Some have closed their doors to visitors completely, following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The state also plans to restrict large gatherings with 250 people.

Places of worship begin planning
Places of worship in Summit County are cancelling services and more are expected to follow suit to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Beacon Journal reports Nepali Hindus in Akron will stop gathering on Saturdays and one church has announced it will not meet Sunday. Hudson's Christ Community Chapel are waiting for an anticipated order from Gov. Mike DeWine, which will prevent more than 250 people to gather at a place. Medina's United Church of Christ didn't hold hands at the end of last Sunday's service, and for the first time in 17 years, sacramental wine was served in cups.

Cleveland International Film Festival canceled
The 44th Cleveland International Film Festival has been canceled amid the coronavirus outbreak. Festival officials issued a statement Wednesday saying they have an obligation to protect the city and filmmakers. They said they're looking forward to next year when they move from Tower City to Playhouse Square. 

St. Patrick's Day parades canceled
Akron and Cleveland's annual St. Patrick's Day parades have been canceled after health officials confirmed the fourth case COVID-19 in the state. Akron's parade will be moved to September. Many other cities have called off their annual parades as well, including New York City, Chicago, Boston and even the Irish capital of Dublin. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports more than 900 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed nationwide. Four are in Ohio.

Cuyahoga County judges suspend in-person trials
Judges at the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas are suspending jury trials until next month because of coronavirus concerns. The exception is a person's right to speedy trial. The judges will try to conduct as many trials by phone or video as possible. Starting Monday, citizens called for jury duty can't come into the building, but will be provided a phone number to call. 

House Democrats push economic assistance plan in wake of outbreak
U.S. House Democrats are pushing an economic assistance plan to confront the spread of coronavirus. It would include free testing nationwide and emergency funding to reimburse lost paychecks for those in self-quarantine, missing work or losing jobs. The ambitious package should breeze through the House tomorrow, but Senate Republicans are likely to seek changes. In a national address Wednesday night, President Donald Trump proposed his own measures to ease the economic cost of the pandemic. Trump also restricted passenger travel from 26 European nations to the U.S., and the State Department cautioned Americans to reconsider traveling abroad.

Cavaliers in quarantine after Jazz player confirmed with COVID-19
Members of the Cleveland Cavaliers have been told to self-quarantine. A Utah Jazz player tested positive Wednesday for the coronavirus. The Cavs were one of the teams that played them in the last 10 days. The move comes hours after the majority of the league's owners were leaning toward playing games without fans in arenas. Now games are suspended “until further notice." The NBA's G league is also suspended, including the Canton Charge.

March Madness to go on without spectators
March Madness will be played next week without spectators. Only essential staff and limited family will be allowed in attendance at the men's and women's tournament at arenas across the country. The NCAA is looking to move the men's Final Four out of Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta to a smaller venue, but the NBA's decision to suspend games could lead the NCAA to consider more drastic measures.

Tips from the CDC to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Avoid unnecessary contact (handshakes, high-fives, etc.)
  • Avoid large crowds
  • Wash hands for more than 20 seconds
  • Hand sanitizer is good in a pinch
  • If you're sick, stay home
  • Stay away from others who are sick

The Ohio Department of Health has opened a call center for questions relating to the coronavirus: 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634).