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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

Ohio COVID-19 Cases Rise, First Case Confirmed in Summit County

a photo of mike dewine
WBNS-TV, Columbus
Governor Mike DeWine speaks at a briefing on the coronavirus situation in Ohio on Friday, March 13, 2020.

There are now more than a dozen COVID-19 cases confirmed in the state, including one in Summit County.  That's eight more than Thursday, and 159 Ohions are being tested. 

At a press conference Friday, Gov. Mike DeWine confirmed four cases have been diagnosed at the Cleveland Clinic, and four others at UC Health in the Cincinnati area. 

Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Director Amy Acton said the age range is from 34 to 66 years old. The median age of those affected is 48 years old.  

"Their illnesses started as far back as Feb. 25 and as recent as March 11. Four hospitalizations, no deaths," Acton said. 

Six counties have confirmed cases: Belmont, Butler, Cuyahoga, Stark, Summit and Trumbull. 

Acton said more cases are being confirmed quicker because of more in-house testing being performed. The Cleveland Clinic recently got their own tests, which allows them to get results within eight hours. Before, tests would have to be sent out and results took up to two days. 

"Our best judgment based on our medical experts is that the coronavirus is all over the state of Ohio," DeWine said. "We want everyone to put this into perspective: Not unexpected, completely predictable." 

DeWine annouced Friday he will an issue an order that will prohibit visitors in jails and prisons in the state. 

He also plans to send a letter to President Donald Trump that includes 17 requests for relief in the state. Some of the requests are getting access to the national stockpile to personal protective equipment to keep health care workers safe and providing free internet to students who don't have it so they can continue their classes. 

DeWine recommended children shouldn't be in daycare. Although health experts have proven children will be fine if they contract COVID-19, they can be carriers and spread the disease. 

DeWine said it's time to be mindful. "If someone is sick, send them home," he said. 

On Thursday, DeWine issued orders that changed operations in the state to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

Mass gatherings, which means a place where more than 100 people are in close proximity of each other, are temporarily banned in Ohio. 

This includes parades, fairs, festivals, theaters, gyms and arenas. 

Grocery stores, schools, airports and train stations are not included.

K-12 schools will shut down for three weeks Monday afternoon for an extended spring break. Some schools have already shut their doors. DeWine issued an order Friday that allows schools to still offer breakfast and lunch, and it will be entirely up to the school districts. Canton City Schools is one of the districts still offering food. Akron Public Schools is making plans to do the same. 

"There are some children that rely, pretty exclusively, on that food," DeWine said. 

He said there are also no exceptions for schools closing on Monday, and it's up to administrators to figure out how to keep educating students. 

"We will work with school leaders to make sure they have the flexibility that they need. We want to be adaptable as humanly possible," DeWine said.  "The schools have a big task. It's a difficult task." 

Kent State University and Ohio State University have permanently moved classes online for the rest of the semester. School officials haven't decided what will happen with bigger events like commencement. Many other colleges and universities across the state have opted to suspend in-person classes until mid-April.

Nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and psychiatric facilities are no longer allowing visitors. The elderly and people with pre-existing conditions are one of the most at-risk populations for the disease. Around 15% of those over 80 years old who have contracted COVID-19 have died, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Some hospitals have also changed their visitor policies. Summa Health and Mercy Health are allowing two visitors per patient and must be screened before entering any patient areas. 

Many events have also been canceled, including the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony on May 2, Vice President Mike Pence's visit to Summit County and many sports events. The NBA, MLB, NHL and NFL have suspended the rest of their seasons. The Mid-American Conference (MAC) tournament was also canceled, along with many others including the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament. 

Acton said Thursday health officials believe more than 1% of Ohio's population is carrying the coronavirus, that's more than 100,000 people. Numbers are expected to increase in the next week. 

For all the lastest news relating to the COVID-19 outbreak, click here.