Morning Headlines: DeWine Weighs Extending Stay-At-Home Order; Ohio COVID-19 Cases Exceed 2,000

Apr 1, 2020

Here are your morning headlines for Wednesday, April 1:

  • DeWine weighs extending stay-at-home order;
  • State distributes protective gear to health care workers;
  • Akron implements more cost-cutting moves;
  • Cleveland confirms 10 more cases of COVID-19;
  • Parma rehab center reportedly has a COVID-19 "cluster";
  • Trump designates Ohio as 'major disaster' area;
  • Cuyahoga County jail warden in self-isolation;
  • Ohio EPA prohibits water shutoffs during outbreak;
  • Cuyahoga Co. opens small business resource center;
  • University of Akron drops fees, extends deadlines for fall admissions;
  • Hobby Lobby subtly opens stores during stay-at-home order;
  • Summit Metro Parks closes areas, asks public to take precautions;

DeWine weighs extending stay-at-home order
Gov. Mike DeWine said Tuesday it's likely the stay-at-home order expiring April 6 will be extended. And he hinted he may release some state prisoners soon on a case-by-case basis. The state is now reporting more than 2,100 COVID-19 cases and 55 deaths. More than 70 of the state's 88 counties have been affected. Northeast Ohio has been hard hit by the outbreak; Cuyahoga County has reported more than 500 cases and Summit County has 130. Mahoning County has reported 9 deaths — the most in the state. More than 580 are hospitalized. Ohio's first case was confirmed March 9. Columbus officials plan to open a shelter to house homeless people who have COVID-19 but don't require hospitalization.

State distributes protective gear to health care workers
The state is distributing hundreds of thousands of protective gear for health care workers to help fight COVID-19. The Ohio Department of Health said it received nearly 275,000 N95 masks, more than 650,000 surgical masks, and many more face shields and gloves from the Strategic National Stockpile. But state health officials say a shortage remains as cases begin to spike. Ohio health director Dr. Amy Acton said Ohio can expect a surge as early as mid-April and with as many as 10,000 cases a day. The Ohio Manufacturing Alliance, a coalition of manufacturers and hospitals, is urging companies to produce personal protective equipment such as masks, gowns and face shields. 

Akron implements more cost-cutting moves
The city of Akron is cutting staff and services as the economic downtown takes a bite out of revenue. Mayor Dan Horrigan’s budget task force is charged with cutting spending by up to 20%. Horrigan has ordered a hiring freeze until further notice. The Beacon Journal reports 400 employees have been laid off so far. All recreational programming and community events will be postponed until at least June 1. City parks will remain open for “walking and other socially-distanced activities.” The city has also announced it will accept only trash that fits in curbside carts beginning next week to protect sanitation workers. Cleveland made the same decision this week. 

Cleveland confirms 10 more cases of COVID-19
The city of Cleveland confirmed 10 more cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total to 120. Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson also extended the city’s civil emergency proclamation — which was set to expire on Tuesday — to April 30.

Parma rehab center reportedly considered a COVID-19 "cluster"
A Parma rehabilitation and nursing center is under investigation after health officials suspect there's a cluster of COVID-19 cases. Cleveland.com reports all patients and staff at ManorCare Health Services are being tested. The facility said none of the patients who tested positive are there. Those who have been in close contact were notified. Health officials haven't disclosed how many cases there are. The facility has stopped taking new patients and regularly checks patients and staff temperatures. 

Trump designates Ohio as 'major disaster' area
President Donald Trump has approved a request from Gov. Mike DeWine to declare Ohio has a "major disaster" area. The designation will allow the state to get emergency federal funds to combat COVID-19. The money is available to eligible local governments and some private nonprofit organizations. Ohio senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman applauded the move in a joint statement, saying the federal money will help with preparedness and recovery efforts. Trump has approved major disaster declarations for dozens of other states, including Michigan.

Cuyahoga County jail warden in self-isolation
A Cuyahoga County jail warden is in self-isolation after returning from a trip to Costa Rica. Cleveland.com reports Gregory Croucher came back to Ohio on March 20 and worked at the jail for three days before being sent home to quarantine. He wasn't screened on his first day back, but then decided to get tested. Croucher isn't showing symptoms. An employee at a Marion correctional facility is the only confirmed COVID-19 case in state prisons and jails. Twenty-five people in the state prison system have been tested and all have come back negative so far.

Ohio EPA prohibits water shutoffs during outbreak
The Ohio EPA has issued a statewide order that prohibits water shutoffs during the pandemic. The order also requires water to be reconnected to residents who had it turned off any time after Jan. 1st. Gov. Mike DeWine said Ohioans still need to pay their bills, but the order ensures everyone has access to safe, clean water. DeWine said contact your water utility to have the service reconnected.

Cuyahoga County opens small business resource center
Cuyahoga County has opened a resource center to help small businesses navigate struggles during the pandemic. It'll help employers apply for federal assistance loans, navigate unemployment insurance benefits applications and come up with plans for employees. County Executive Armond Budish said last week that the county and other organizations have assembled a more than $3 million fund for loans and grants for small businesses in need.

University of Akron drops fees, extends deadline for fall admissions
The University of Akron is waiving application fees, pushing back deadlines and will not require standardized test scores for fall admission. Deadline for applications is Aug. 1, but for those who've already been admitted, the deadline to commit has been moved from May 1 to June 1. University officials said the changes could help families facing economic hardship because of the pandemic. Webinars start this week to help with housing and financial aid.

Hobby Lobby subtly opens stores during stay-at-home order
The craft store Hobby Lobby has been reopening stores across the state and nation, defying orders that close nonessential businesses. It reopened all 19 locations in Ohio Monday, including in Medina, Stow and Fairlawn. Authorities in Wisconsin and Indiana have been shutting them down. Business Insider reports store managers received a memo on how to talk to authorities if they're questioned.

Summit Metro Parks closes areas, asks public to take precautions
Summit Metro Parks is asking visitors to avoid busy areas and maintain social distancing guidelines to prevent the spread COVID-19. The park district has closed camping and archery sites and banned group sports to comply with the CDC during the outbreak. It's asking the public to avoid picnic tables, railings and exercise equipment. Only the elderly and high-risk populations are allowed in park areas from 6 to 8 a.m. to help reduce their exposure. Parks are open under the state's stay-at-home order because they are labeled as essential.