Morning Headlines: 5 COVID-19 Cases Confirmed, Mass Gatherings Banned, K-12 Schools Prepare to Close

Mar 13, 2020

Here are your morning headlines for Friday, March 13: 

  • 5 COVID-19 cases confirmed; 
  • DeWine bans mass gatherings;
  • K-12 schools prepare to close;
  • State health officials: About 100,000 are already infected;
  • Nursing homes to prohibit visitors;
  • OSU cancels in-person classes for the rest of semester;
  • VP Pence's Akron visit cancelled;
  • Stark County orders 118,000 Q-tips for Ohio primary;
  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame postpones induction ceremony;
  • Greater Cleveland Food Bank, Red Cross worry about volunteers;
  • Theaters, arts organizations cancel performances;
  • Sports world at standstill amid coronavirus outbreak;

5 COVID-19 cases confirmed
A fifth case of COVID-19 has been confirmed in Ohio. Health officials said the 55-year-old Trumbull County man is currently in the ICU. His family, friends and people he's had contacted with are also in quarantine. One of Ohio's cases is in Stark County and three others are in Cuyahoga County. The Ohio Department of Health reports 52 people are currently being tested. More than 300 people are being monitored in the state.

DeWine bans mass gatherings
Gov. Mike DeWine has issued an order banning mass gatherings in the state, which means a crowd of more than 100 people in close proximity. Playhouse Square, Akron Civic Theater, EJ Thomas Hall, Akron Art Museum and the Agora in Cleveland are among those postponing all events at least until the end of the month. Playhouse said it intends to reschedule as many performances as possible and will update ticket holders.

K-12 schools prepare to close
Ohio districts are scrambling after Gov. Mike DeWine ordered schools closed for three weeks to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus. The order takes effect at the end of the day on Monday, though some schools such as Cleveland plan to close Friday. The order covers both public and private schools but not preschools or daycares. Cleveland schools said students will be taking home assignments. And the Beacon Journal reports Akron Public School students with assigned Chromebook laptops will be able to complete classwork at home. The order will be reviewed in April to see if it should be extended. For a list of school closings, click here.

Health officials: About 100,000 are already infected by coronavirus
Health officials believe around 100,000 Ohioans have already been infected with COVID-19. Ohio Health Department Director Amy Acton said not all cases are being reported because of the slow roll out of testing kits in the state. At a press conference Thursday, Acton and Gov. Mike DeWine confirmed a fifth case of COVID-19 in Ohio. A 55-year-old Trumbull man is in the ICU. Health officials are determining who he had contact with and are putting them in quarantine. Fifty-two people are being tested in the state — nearly 30 more than Wednesday. Acton said we will see cases double within the next six days.

Nursing homes to prohibit visitors
Nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and psychiatric facilities will be shutting their doors to visitors in the next few days to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Some already have under guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Earlier this week, Gov. Mike DeWine planned to issue an order that would allow at least one visitor per patient, but facilities called for stricter guidelines. The elderly and people with pre-existing conditions are the most at risk for COVID-19. Nearly 15% of those over 80 who contracted the disease have died, according to the CDC.

OSU cancels in-person classes for the rest of semester
Ohio State University is the first college to cancel in-person classes for the rest of the semester. The announcement came after health officials confirmed the fifth COVID-19 patient in the state Thursday. Many Ohio colleges have set a deadline to return to face-to-face classes, either by the end of this month or mid-April. Ohio State said it will supply teachers and students with online resources to help complete classes. School officials said many events are still up in the air, like graduation, and will be reevaluated as new information becomes available. More than a dozen Northeast Ohio colleges have moved classes only temporarily.

VP Pence's Akron visit cancelled 
Among political events cancelled is Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Akron. He will no longer appear at a scheduled March 23 Lincoln Day Dinner for the Summit County Republican Party. Cleveland.com reports the party is also suspending most campaigning, including door-knocking, get-out-the-vote efforts and fundraising. The Ohio Democratic Party postponed its annual state dinner, one of its largest fundraisers of the year. And a bit further from home, Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown and Republican Rep. Anthony Gonzalez are closing their Washington, D.C. offices. Gov. Mike DeWine said, however, that Tuesday’s primary election will continue as planned.

Stark County orders 118,000 Q-tips for Ohio primary
The Stark County Board of Elections plans to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during Tuesday's primary with the help of Q-tips. The Repository reports the county has ordered more than 118,000 Q-tips for polling locations. It'll allow voters to tap their selections without touching the screens. They can then pitch their Q-tips into a trash can, which will be properly removed from polling locations at the end of the day. Health officials believe the coronavirus can survive on surfaces for hours. Other counties like Summit and Cuyahoga have moved polling locations out of nursing homes to stop the spread of the disease.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame postpones induction ceremony
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has postponed its 2020 induction ceremony in Cleveland to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It has also canceled education programs after schools began to close. Tickets for the May 2 event will still be valid once a new date is set and an email has been sent out for refunds. The Hall will remain open and said it's using American Alliance of Museums’ protocols. This year’s inductees include Depeche Mode, The Doobie Brothers, Whitney Houston, The Notorious B.I.G., T. Rex, and Nine Inch Nails.

Greater Cleveland Food Bank, Red Cross worry about volunteers
Nonprofits like the Greater Cleveland Food Bank and the American Red Cross are worried about a shortage of volunteers during the coronavirus outbreak. Fox 8 Cleveland reports more than 500 volunteers have canceled their shifts at the food bank this week through mid-April. Annually, they rely on more than 20,000 volunteers. Blood drives across the country have been canceled. The Red Cross believes the healthy donor population will decline, resulting in a blood shortage. 

Sports world at standstill amid coronavirus outbreak
The sports world has come to a halt. The NCAA’s March Madness set to begin next week has formally been canceled. That word came hours after college basketball conferences, including The Mid-American (MAC), canceled the remainder of games due to coronavirus concerns. Division III basketball also called off its tournaments, and the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) postponed as well. The NBA and NHL suspended games. The Cavaliers said no players are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and are not under mandatory quarantine as of Thursday afternoon. There was concern after two players of the Utah Jazz have been diagnosed with COVID-19 about a week after they played the Cavs in Cleveland. The MLB has suspended spring training and delayed the start of the season by at least two weeks. The Indians were set to open at home March 26. 

For the latest information relating to the COVID-19, click here.